I was sitting in prayer tonight and recognized that at the end of two days in our “Five Days of Prayer” that if attendance continued the same for the next three days that this would be our lowest attended prayer event. That realization made me very sad. Prayer is what we have been about for 15 years, and now it seemed to be waning terribly. As I sat thinking about it I knew that it was my fault. As I have told literally hundreds of Pastors over the years “everything rises and falls on leadership”. If you start promoting a prayer event a week before it starts don’t be surprised by low attendance, and that is exactly what I did. The devil fights against prayer more than anything a church does, because he has no defense against it, and if there is mediocre leadership he will win. My quote in my seminar on prayer for years has been “if you take a boiling pot of water off of the heat it will stop boiling almost immediately, and if the senior pastor quits pushing prayer it will stop almost immediately.” Funny how I can preach things for years and fail to practice them. Everybody gets tired, and I have gotten tired and allowed myself to get a bit lazy in regards to my responsibility. Our next “Five Days of Prayer” is the first week in December in preparation for our Christmas outreach event. That is two months away, and I am starting this next week to teach, encourage, promote, nag, advertise, about that event and the importance of a church praying so as to experience Gods blessing. It is the only way.
Everybody believes in prayer but very few really pray. Interesting how real, heart felt, focused believing prayer is so very rare when almost everyone would say the promise, “I will pray for you”, and never even think about doing it. Real prayer is when you spend time with God while doing nothing else. God is all holy, all powerful, infinitely powerful and yet we will dishonor Him by claiming to spend time with Him while we are cooking, hoeing the garden, driving etc. I wouldn’t even do that with my wife and not be in trouble. God deserves our undivided attention, but very few have a devoted time when they talk to God for a length of time that signifies value and importance while doing nothing else. I spend an hour with God almost each evening just praying and interceding with great intensity for people. We started today on our “Five Days of Prayer”. I push this big time in our church, but attendance is small. I have quite pushing it to the point that I get people coming reluctantly. Our faith is no other place more accurately determined than by our prayer life.
went with my son-in-law to pick up a trailer tonight and as he was driving I was looking out the passenger side window at the moon. It was quite amazing to watch it during our hour drive. I haven’t kept up on all that is involved in what happened to the moon tonight but it was different, pretty, and obviously rare. As I watched with fascination this unique picture in the sky I couldn’t help but think of a Bible verse that I just memorized, Romans 1:20 “for since the creation of the world God’s invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.” God makes Himself known to those who want to know Him, and He reveals Himself to those who seek Him. People resist God, ignore God, and deny God not because of intellectual reasons, but because God is Holy and sovereign and almighty and they don’t want to submit to Him. It isn’t an intellectual issue it is a pride issue and a morality issue. God decides what is right and wrong, and people don’t like that. Watching the moon tonight and being very confident that it is the work of an amazingly intelligent and wise God, I choose to believe in Him, I choose to submit to Him, I choose to follow Him, I choose to love Him.
I write my goals for the next year in October because my birthday is in October, but mostly because the teaching I do on Leadership starts now and I like to have my goals done to give to all those in my classes as a model of what goals look like. I will be 67 in a couple of weeks so I have 67 goals. My really big goal for the year is to pedal from San Diago, Californis to St Augustine, Florida on my newly home built Recumbent Trike. There will be 5 of us on bikes and a couple of wives coming along in a car so it will be easier than last year when we had everything on our bikes in Panniers. We will be going in March and April and will pedal about 70 miles each day. I think the most important goal of the 67 is to pray for every person in our church, Jefferson Baptist by name each week. I have an IPad with names, pictures, needs, problems and I keep it updated as I hear and learn of needs, challenges, trials, and victories in each persons life. It takes a fair amount of time each week to get through everyone, and I am often tempted to skip, scale back and even quit because I often feel like nothing is happening because of the time I spend each week praying. It gets boring, and tedious praying for the same people week after week. But I keep at it asking God to give me endurance and faith and He does. Of all the things that I do I truly believe that the greatest fruit of my life as I stand before Jesus at the Judgment Seat of Christ and all I have done is brought to light will be the prayers that I have prayed to God interceding for people.
I am feeling as good tonight as I have felt in a long time. The reason is because I rode my stationary bike for 90 minutes yesterday while I watched Thursday night football and then lifted weights for 30 minutes. For the last two weeks I have felt terrible as my Parkinson’s really was getting the best of me with extreme stiffness and muscle pain. I got so busy with church stuff and getting ready for hunting and then the trip that I really dropped off on my exercise. No big deal I thought. The result was misery. Tonight as I sit in my recliner writing this I am thinking I can skip exercising tonight because I feel so good. But the consequence will be back to misery. It is funny how our memories are so short and our inderstanding of cause and effect is so short sighted. The consequences in our lives of this behavior in the spiritual realm is even more extreme, but so many just don’t seem to get it. You give God time by reading His Word and talking to Him in prayer every day and He will bless your life. Read Psalms 1:2-3, Joshua 1:8, and Psalms 5:11-12 to name just a few. But when He blesses we forget Him and get busy and no longer do those things that brought the blessing. Strange how we are. Well I need to go now and ride my bike and then lift some weights, and I will be sure to read my Bible, and pray for all those on my prayer list.
Going hunting and all the challenges that accompany that and camping in the wilderness for 10 days is incredibly fun and exciting, and we are already planning our next hunting trip. I am planning now to fly to Alaska next September and go Moose hunting on the Yukon River with my son-in-law Philip. Patty says there is no room in our living room for Moose horns! Even though it was a super adventure I am so glad to be home and sleeping in my bed instead of on the ground, taking showers every night, sitting in my hot tub, and reading in my recliner. It seems that being out camping in a tent at 8,800 feet, sleeping on the ground, using a five gallon bucket for a toilet, and eating a lot of oatmeal makes home seem even more wonderful. Contrast is a key to understanding and appreciation. Jesus said, “I go to prepare a place for you, and if I go and prepare a place for you I will come again and receive you to myself that where I am there you may be also.” I wonder all the time what that place Jesus is preparing for me looks like and what it will feel like. Living in this world with all the stuff that happens will certainly be the contrast that makes eternity in heaven with Jesus incomprehensible.
This year on our hunting trip to the Steens there were lots of elk and they were in full rut which means the Bulls were bugling a lot and responding to the bugles of the hunters who were trying to locate them and also to call them in range of a bow shot. I went out hunting with my son-in-law Kyle who is a Youth Pastor in Washington. We decided to walk into the area that the others in our group were seeing and hearing lots of elk. I told Kyle that I didn’t bring a bugle on the trip because I didn’t realize there were going to be so many elk. I told him that in years past I had done lots of bugling and was quite good at it and had called in a lot of bulls and had shot one with my bow after calling him in within 30 yards. He responded by saying he had a diaphragm/reed bull call and Asked if I knew how to use that type of call. They go in the very back of your mouth to the point that they make you gag and sound very realistic when used by someone who knows how to use them. I responded by saying something along the line that I was one of the best there was. He handed me his and I put it in my mouth and started trying to sound like an elk. The best I could do was a sound like a dog who got hit by a car gradually working up to a rabbit that was getting his ears pulled by a mean little kid. Kyle said, “I think you have it in your mouth upside down”. I responded with, “Oh Yea, now I remember”. I turned it around and actually got a pretty good sound after that. Good son-in-law, he didn’t tell anyone when we got back to camp.
Last night at our camp in the Steens we all sat around visiting, telling stories of the near misses at deer and elk, and laughing at each other. About 9:30 pm everyone headed off to their tents and sleeping bags for the night, but I stayed up for a couple more hours to read in our cook tent by myself. When I decided to go to my tent I turned off the propane heater and lantern and turned on the light that is on my iPhone to get to our tent in the dark. I took my iPad to one of the cars and plugged it into the power port to charge up overnight. I decided it would be a good idea to plug my phone in as well. I reached up to my pocket to get the phone, but it wasn’t there, I went back to the cook tent to see if it was there, wasn’t there, so I walked around our camp ground looking everywhere for my phone getting panicky that I had lost it while hunting. I went to our tent to see if it was there and I went to put my little flashlight in my mouth to hold it while I used two hands to unzip our tent, but it wasn’t my little flashlight it was my phone! For 15 minutes I walked around looking for my phone that was in my hand! You have to be kidding me! Boy, I can’t wait until I get to heaven and get my new body. This one is going bad fast😀
Weather is much improved and the kids are enjoying playing outside instead of being stuck in the tent and the noise of 14 kids playing together, mostly playing but sometime fighting over possession of the same toy, is dissipated much more outside. All the Mom’s and Dad’s of these great little kids have the same goal that we had when we raised them and that is that they grow up to be adults that have healthy souls, love others like Jesus does, and to love the Lord with all their heart. Left to their own that would not happen. Foolishness, selfishness, and lack of self control is bound up in the heart of a child. But good parenting will transform those traits to just the opposite. Many adults today are still acting and living with the traits of a child, just a bit more sophisticated. They need friends, peers, and spiritual leaders who are more mature to mentor and help them to grow. If they will humbly seek those relationships growth will happen.
It is 10 am on Thursday morning at Steens Mts and it is pouring snow. It has been raining and snowing non stop since we got here on Monday. The hunters are still hunting though every evening in the tents boots and cloths are hung everywhere getting dried out for the next day’s hunting.
15 little grandkids play outside until they get cold and they come in and drink some hot chocolate and get warmed up and head back outside. One of the characteristics of high performers in life is that they are tough. Lots of people today in our country and in our culture are not tough at all. My grandkids are tough and will get tougher in the days ahead and will be mega fruit producers for God in the days ahead.