Watched a video of the story of Burl Cain during the church service at JBC this weekend. He became the warden at the Louisiana State Penitentiary in 1995. It was the largest penitentiary in the U.S. with 6,300 inmates, on 18,000 acres, and it was also the bloodiest in terms of the number of inmates killed by other inmates each year. He introduced Bible School and Seminary training with degree programs into the prison and established churches in the prison led by pastors who were inmates who had graduated from the Seminary. It was an amazing story of transformation in an evil place brought about by a man who wanted to make a difference. By prayer and obeying God’s leading in his life he made a huge difference in 1000’s of men’s lives most who will die in that prison serving life sentences. The main point was that anybody can do something very significant with their life if they really want to, trust God for the power and resources needed, and are willing to pay the price required in effort and sacrifice. I want to do something significant with my life. I want to bear much fruit. I am not content at all with past accomplishments.
It rained today. First time in a long time. Reminded me that Fall is close. There are just a couple more days and then September is here. Seasons come and go, and life has chapters and seasons. I am not sure why but I am feeling like I am about to enter into a new chapter of my life, a new season. It is the end of August when harvest happens and I am wanting the next decade of my life to be a time of great fruit bearing, of harvest. I am experiencing this great unrest in me, this huge discontent in what I have done for God. I want to do so much more, but there is also this awareness that time is running out so if it is going to happen it has to be soon, I better get to doing it. I plead with God each evening as I spend time in prayer to bless the work of my hands and to grant me increase and open doors in my life to serve Him.
The van that Thomas and Sherri have has a ramp that goes out when the side door opens and Thomas can go in and out with his wheel chair. He has regained enough use of his arms and hands that he could drive the van if it were equipped with hand controls, but the van is to old to qualify for hand controls by the insurance. So they need to buy a relatively new van and then Workers Comp will pay for the conversions that need to be made with ramp and hand controls. Relatively new vans are relatively expensive so Sherri being the planner/organizer that she is has come up with these various fund raisers like bottle drives and this garage sale that is in my orchard today and tomorrow. people have brought pickup loads of stuff to donate and this is like the granddaddy of all garage sales. With all the cars and people coming and going it was more like a rodeo. There were lots of people who donated stuff and there were a lot of people who donated time to help for hours organizing all the stuff and then being here today and tomorrow for the sale. It is always fun to see people work together for a cause and to see the great results when they do. It always seems that God’s hand of blessing is on those projects and people involved with them when the cause is noble and there is good unity on the part of those involved.
One of my strong beliefs is that most of what are called Spiritual Disciplines never become a part of most people’s lives because they don’t understand this principle of “Duty to Delight”. Prayer is one of the very important spiritual disciplines. Most people would agree that they don’t pray near enough because of business,forgetfulness, apathy, and lack of faith. So here is how “Duty to Delight” works. You begin with a goal or commitment to a set amount of time for prayer each day. Let’s make it 30 minutes each day. You establish a prayer notebook with needs for all the people in your life and in your church. You also pick a spot that is going to be your “prayer closet” Share the goal with a few close friends who agree to hold you accountable and commit to checking at least weekly how you are doing. Now it is important that you work very hard to keep your commitment, that you are faithful, responsible, and responsive to those holding you accountable. This is the “dry as dirt duty” stage. You will say things like,”I don’t want to pray because someone is holding me accountable, or I was so tired that I got nothing out of it so why do it?” What we want is the “Delight” stage, where we enjoy praying very much, it is such a part of our life that we don’t have to make ourselves do it. The problem is that the “Delight” stage doesn’t happen until we have been in the “Duty” stage for awhile. If you don’t persevere during this first stage you stay right there, and never grow into a passionate pray warrior. It is very much like our kids when they were little taking piano lessons and practicing everyday. They would whine and fuss about having to practice, but today they love to play and they are very good at it. It took a few years of “dry as dirt duty” piano practice, but today the piano is a delight.
One of my favorite sayings is, “God created a man to find a cave with a bear in it, drive out the bear and live in the cave”. That saying is the picture of a lifestyle and an attitude that some live by and most do not. If God really made us to do that kind of thing, why do so few really live that way? Because it is hard! Generally speaking almost every person chooses to eliminate “hard” from their life as much as is possible. The problem is that all significant occomplishments are hard, many very hard, so if “easy” is our goal we are going to be mediocre, average, and we will do nothing with our life that really matters for all eternity. Jesus said in Matthew 7:14, “the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it”. A good marriage is hard, very hard. Life was designed by God to be hard so we would grow in character and become strong.
So last Wednesday when it was discovered that one of the elevator parts was the wrong part the guy in charge of the installation emailed me and said a fellow named Zack would contact me first thing Monday and order the right part. At noon nobody had contacted me so I phoned and I got a recording that he was out of the office for a week. So I asked the secretary for Zack and he said that no one had talked to him about our project. He said he would call the boss and get right back to me. Two hours later I called him and asked what was happening. He said they would reorder the right part. I asked if they could please do that today. He assured me they would. I asked if he would please call me when it was officially ordered. An hour later I called him and asked what was happening. He said the part would be here in about two weeks. I asked if he could please email me tomorrow the exact date that it was arriving at JBC. He said he would. We will see. I think that what God is going to do in that building as we establish it as a place where many classes are taught on Theology, How to Raise your kids to be champions for Jesus, How to have a wonderful marriage, comparative religions of the world, evolution and creation, how to manage your money, prophecy, how to witness effectively, and many others, that the devil is afraid of the damage those who take the classes will do so he is trying to prevent it from being finished. He might succeed in slowing it down a bit, but we will win in the end, because we have the power of prayer.
Life is funny at 66 years of age when I think back to some of the crossroads in my life and wonder what if I had taken that route back then where would I be today. One of the significant crossroads was about 4 different times I was very close to choosing to be a missionary to a foreign country. We had a couple of missionary couples at church today and then they shared again at an Indonesian dinner tonight. I enjoyed very much hearing their stories and about their ministry. I am usually impressed with missionaries because of the sacrifice they make in living in a country away from family and I am especially impressed when they choose to go to a third world country and live in difficult circumstances. I remember back to some of the significant struggles I had as I tried to decern God’s will for my life trying to figure out if I was supposed to go to Indonesia as a Bible translator or be a dairy farmer or be a pastor or what?? I am sure that I am where I am supposed to be but I can’t help but wonder about the “what ifs”.