Patty’s birthday is today, and she said that she wanted to go see Star Wars with me for her birthday so we went last night. I didn’t like the movie. Oh, I enjoyed the special effects and the general theme and acting, but I left the theater feeling sad by the ending. I like happy endings in movies. Life has a lot of sad things that happen and it seems strange to me that a made up story in a movie can’t give joy instead of sadness given the choice. Our life is full of trials, difficulties, and sadness, but it is going to end with great incomprehensible joy. I don’t mind sad things in the middle of a movie but I like it to end happy, like the first Star Wars movie. And then there is my favorite story when Jesus was crucified on a Friday but then Sunday came and He rose from the grave. That’s my kind of story.
Death is an unpleasant topic for most. The literally thousands of deaths that most see on Television and movies does not make death more of a reality , but less of one. Our own personal death is ignored in our own thinking and we become anesthetized to death by seeing so many on the screen. When we get news of possible cancer or other life threatening illness to ourselves or a loved one anxiety to shock hits us. The Bible teaches that the fear of death is the soil for all of our fears, and that it controls us and holds us prisoner. The Bible also teaches that Jesus, God’s Son died, was buried and rose from the dead 3 days later and is alive today, and that those who believe that He died for them to pay for their sins and follow Him are set free from the fear of death. In the Bible death is compared with sleep in a daily demonstration of the grace of death and the seamless transition from this life to the next. Every night when I lay down I say, “this could be the last night that I fall asleep before I am with Jesus with my new glorified, wonderful body. I am working at setting my mind on life after death a lot, in fact every time something the least bit irritating happens. I am building my anticipation for the incomprehensible joy of the next life and eliminating all fear of death and therefore the seed bed of all other fears in my life. Thinking a lot about the finish line of my life motivates me to live life to the fullest to accomplish as much as I can and to become as much like Jesus as possible in the time left to me.
A good day fishing is amazing and a bad day of fishing is still better than just about anything else in life. Today on the Alsea River it poured rain but I had very good rain gear, and I was dressed warm, and I had a full thermos of hot coffee, and I had lots of snacks, and I was was fishing with a good friend and a great guide, and we caught 3 steelhead. Even though fishing in the cold and rain, standing in a drift boat all day constantly casting and retrieving is tiring I came home all energized. It is kind of funny how that works, but it is nice to know that it does. A good skill to have in life especially pastors is knowing how to tell when your gas tank is getting close to empty and how to fill it when it is.
I had a steelhead fishing trip arranged for tomorrow. I called the guide that took my two sons last week and they landed 8 steelhead and brought home two that were hatchery fish and booked a trip with him. Looking at their pictures and listening to their stories got me all excited about going. Then the guide texted today and said that there was a chance we would cancel tomorrow because the forcast was for a lot of rain tonight and the river would be out of shape.I started hoping that it would rain because I was feeling tired and really didn’t want to get up at 4:30 and sit in the cold all day. It wasn’t that long ago that I would have been hyper about going steelhead fishing. He texted a few minutes ago and said the trip was a “go”, weather was fine. I let out a big sigh, and if Patty had heard and asked what the problem was I would have said, “I have to go fishing tomorrow”. She probably would have laughed thinking I was joking. I am pretty sure when the alarm goes off in the morning I will jump out of bed and that I will have a great time tomorrow. This feeling of “dread” has become more frequent of late. I love preaching but I find myself dreading the study and preparation for the next weeks sermon. It usually starts on Sunday afternoon. I love speaking for two days at our annual seminar at our church on prayer and leadership, but right now I am dreading it. It is easy to see why some when they get older tend to sit a lot, watch TV a lot, and are fairly inactive, it just feels good. But I am determined to sprint across the finish line of my life so controlling my self talk is super important. I will write tomorrow about my trip and tell you how many fish I caught.
Well, I have had this big dream of riding my bicycle and touching all lower 48 states someday. It seemed like a very improbable goal to ever accomplish. Well, I googled it yesterday and a fellow just finished doing just that and it was only 7,400 miles. At 70 miles a day that would only take 3 1/2 months. I can do that. So I am starting to plan it and when we get back from our trip to St Augustine it will be all planned including the dates. Super.
I was chatting with a friend and they shared how all that was happening in the news was making them very depressed, and asked how I dealt with it. The key self-control issue that needs to be developed and practiced in the life of anyone who wants to always live above the circumstances of life and be full of joy is thought control. If you watch the news and let your mind dwell on what you watch for long periods of time you will be depressed. What we think about predominately dictates who we are and how we feel and how we act. The most powerful way of controlling our thoughts is to memorize scripture that pertains to the thought pattern we are attempting to control. When our mind starts dwelling on the negative stuff choose as an act of your will to recite Philipians 4:4-9 in your mind, then do it again, then think about what it is saying and then pray it back to God. Do that every time your thoughts become the least bit negative. You will become a very positive person that is fun to be around, your energy will go up substantially, you will be a happy person. Try it, it really does work very effectively.
The term B-HAG is one I read in a book on leadership written by Jim Collins. I immediately fell in love with the word, and use it a lot in my conversations and teaching on goals. It stands for “Big, Hairy, Audacious, Goal”. Each year I try to have at least one of them. It isn’t a good idea to have to many because they take a lot of time and energy and sometimes a lot of money. My B-HAG this year is to ride my homemade recumbent trike to St Augustine, Florida, about 4,000 miles. I also usually have one Super B-HAG, which is a goal that is so big, and impossible that often I just read it and dream about it for a number of years without doing anything about it. I rarely tell anybody about it because I usually get responses back that question my sanity. I have had super B-HAGs on my list for several years that I was pretty sure I would never do. Why have them then? Well, for me they are energy producers. Thinking about them, dreaming and imagining the process of accomplishing it is fun, sort of like when I was a kid dreaming about being Superman. My present Super B-Hag is to ride my recumbent Trike close to the same route that I took with my motorcycle in 2009 when I rode through each of the lower 48 States. That same trip on my recumbent trike would take about 6 months at an average of about 70 miles each day. At this point I don’t have any idea how I could make that happen, but I have fun planning it any way.
I filleted almost 300 tilapia yesterday and they are now in the freezer awaiting being eaten. I am now officially out of the aquaponics business, no more fish. I decided that I couldn’t leave on a two month bicycle trip with my wife or daughter responsible for taking care of a program that they didn’t know anything about. So instead of waiting another 6 weeks just before I left I decided to just do it now. New Year, new goals, new projects, new ideas, and new dreams. I have had fun learning all about raising tilapia and aquaponics, but I have been getting a bit bored now that it was just a routine and quite a bit of work. When I get back from our 4,000 mile bicycle trip my new project is to build a three wheeled hybrid car. I have the detailed plans and it should be a major challenge and require a considerable amount of study and learning of new skills. The biggest challenge now is selling all the fish stuff on Craig’s list. For those of you who wanted a tour of my aquaponics system, sorry 😀 I will give you a ride in my car when I get it done.
If we have worked at it and have become skilled at making goals for our own life that fit and help us to prioritize our time and energy, and to motivate ourselves to be high producers in life, and to be those who are growing and changing in character steadily we can use the skill of goal setting to help others to conquer bad habits, to be high achievers, and to grow as people. When a friend, or family member or work associate tells us their troubles or problems, most of us just give some good advice. Good advice makes us and them feel good but nothing will usually change. What works effectively is if we help them set a goal that will move them to success to fixing or overcoming the situation they are in. If a friend says, “my marriage isn’t going very well right now”. You could give some marriage advice or counselimg which he probably won’t remember and it is even less likely that he will do it. A better response would be, ” Hey, I have a set of 6 DVDs on how to improve your marriage. I listened to them a couple years ago, and boy did they help make a huge difference in our marriage. How about you listen to one each week and we can get together for coffee each week and talk about how to put what you learned into practice.” If you are working on you aggressively it is amazing how many opportunities will open up to you and the wisdom you will have to help. When you are leading yourself effectively you can then lead others effectively.
In the past I have built a number of different things. My recumbent trike was a fun build, a number of boats were great fun, rebuilding my 1949 Ford pickup was one the most challenging projects. On all of these projects there were regular inspections of progress and quality. As a result of the inspections adjustments and fixes would result. One of the most powerful uses of goals is to use it as a tool for accelerated character growth. I can make a goal to learn something new, like painting my pickup, and I can make a goal to grow, improve, and change my character and behavior. This requires self-examination and reflection. Accurately coming to conclusions on bad habits, and character flaws is not easy because we are so hard wired towards self-protection, and we are blind and self deceived about our true self. What works for me is to take an admonition in the Bible and work on that one thing for awhile. In 2 Timothy the Apostle Paul told his young protégé that “the Lord’s bond servant must not be argumentative”. So I began listening to myself in conversations and sure enough it didn’t take me long to come to the conclusion that I liked being right and I was quick to argue my view point as being best. As I reflected and journaled about it I became quite disgusted with my childish behavior and wrote a goal to change. Character goals take some thought so that they are measurable and usually require the input of another person, or it can be like having a goal to lose weight, but having your eyes closed when you stand on the scales. I usually have one character goal going all the time, and I change them every 3 to 4 months. Some good behavior or character goals to start on is anger, gossip, slander, grumbling, bitterness, gentleness etc. I always find a number of Bible verses that deal with the flaw I am working on and meditate on them often as part of the goal. Most people grow very little in character unless forced to by life. We can all grow rapidly by using goals.