I have been watching the NBA playoffs, and tonight I watched an incredibly good game with some amazing athletes on both sides. The drive and the extreme effort to win is so obvious and can’t help but get me all stirred up. In the New Testament in 1 Corinthians 9:24 Paul says that those who run a race exercise self control in every area of their life so they can win a prize that won’t last. I have been reading lately about the hours and hours of physical training and practice that the players on the Warriors basketball team put in and as a result they set a new NBA record of 73 wins in the season, Steph Curry set a record of 402 3 pointers this season and won the MVP for the second time in a row with a unanimous vote, something that has never been done before, and now they are headed to the championship series for the second time in a row. In the celebration tonight after they won the seventh game of the Western Championships after being down in the series 3 to 1, it was obvious that the whole team was having fun and very much enjoying the experience of winning. Paul goes on to say that followers of Jesus are striving to win and ought to be exercising self control in every area of our life for a prize that will last forever. 2 Corinthians 5:10 says we will all stand before Jesus after we die and we will give an account to Him on how we have lived our life and He will reward us for the work we have done for Him during our lifetime. We take those rewards with us right into eternity. The basic gist of our reward is glory and praise from the Lord that lasts forever. Every morning I declare to theLord that I will live that day as if it is my last before I stand before Him and am rewarded. I want to win !
Most people think that prayer is like “Please pass the potatoes”, and someone either passes it or not, a simple request that is answered or it isn’t. But in fact prayer is like growing corn. You plant corn and take care of it, you weed it, ferlizer it, water it , and then you eat some corn after months of taking care of it. If you take a week off from watering or weeding the corn you won’t harvest any. When you pray for something or someone and you get weary and quite praying for even a short time no answer. “Ask and keep on asking, seek and keep on seeking, knock and keep on knocking” is the way Jesus put it. Endurance is a key character trait needed to be an effective prayer warrior.
One of the consequences of Parkinson’s can be senility. I really don’t care how long I live but I would like to think clear and sharp as long as I do live. One of the disciplines that I have ramped up on in my life significantly to keep my mind exercised and strong is memorizing scripture. My goal is to have 500 verses memorized well by the end of the year, and I have 448 mastered right now so 52 more to go. I spend around 30 minutes every day reviewing my existing verses and working on new ones. I really have noticed being able to remember things easier and also being able to think clearer, but the huge blessing has been the way the verses that I have memorized pop into my thinking all through the day prompted by an event, circumstance or issue that comes up. It is almost like the Word in my head is alive and chooses to pop into my mind at just the right time, sometimes like a scolding for something I have done, said, or thought. Because of that I have been purposely choosing passages in the Bible that fit a character need in my life. It has been a great way to accelerate my own character growth towards that of Christ. For those interested in memorizing the Word of God a great App that I use is called “Scripture Typer”, it has made my memory work so much fun and successful than in years past.
Giving God an hour each day in devoted prayer was a discipline of many of the old saints, 200 plus years ago. That length of time came from Acts 3:1 where it says Peter and John went up to the Temple at 3 pm, “the hour of prayer”, and Jesus words to his disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane, “couldn’t you pray with Me for even an hour”. I have made that my personal goal a number of years ago for my private, all by myself, praying. I also try to pray with Patty 3 times each week and to pray at a church prayer time 4 times each week. Now that I have been doing it for a number of years it seems “normal” and I am pretty sure I would do the same as a non pastor as well. The reason is not because of great -self control or godliness, but because of a strong belief that it makes a huge difference in the lives of those I pray for, a difference that will be eternal. I want to influence people and prayer is the most powerful way to make a difference in people’s lives that there is. Prayer is extremely hard to do with any degree of regularity and sacrifice because the devil hates prayer because it destroys his control over people so he works overtime in our minds to keep us from praying, it is the ultimate in spiritual warfare. The key to becoming a devoted prayer warrior is to make a commitment to an amount of time you will pray, faithfully keep a record of exactly how much you do pray, and gradually increase the time. Try it if you are serious about making a difference.
Got up at 4:30 am this morning to drive to Portland Airport and took a flight to Anchorage, Alaska with Patty and we are now at this very beautiful conference center outside of Palmer surrounded by snow covered mountains. I will speaking here to Missionaries on the topic of prayer. Our daughter Shelly who lives in Fairbanks got up this morning and drove 6 hours with her 5 children ages 1 to 8 and met us here. We spent the afternoon with them here. It was such a special time and I was so thankful and blessed by her taking the time and effort to do that to see us. Our 8 kids have all turned out so well. They all love us, love the Lord, have good marriages, are raising well behaved, happy kids, and are doing and accomplishing significant things with their lives. Thinking back over the years I think the single most important key was the hours and hours of prayer that we invested into every area and stage of their life, asking God to protect them from the evil one and temptation, to draw them to Himself, to guide them into his perfect will for their lives and to build in the character of Christ.
i have been struggling yesterday and today with being depressed, not serious depression, just a blue funk. I am not sure why. I think it might just be the change in my normal schedule of taking Mondays off and recouping from the weekend. I am leaving in the morning at 5 am for the airport and flying to Anchorage, Alaska where I will be speaking at a Missions conference to missionaries who serve in remote areas in Alska and Canada. Because I was going to be gone Wednesday through Saturday at noon I needed to work all day in my office Monday and today. When I got home this evening at 9 pm I went out to my shop and worked for a couple hours on my 1949 Ford Pickup. I bought a Mustang II Independent Front Suspension kit for my pickup and I took off all the old stuff getting ready to put the new on. My old pickup is going to ride like a Cadillac when I get done with it. It was past11 pm when I came on the house but I felt so much better. I have figured out over the years how to renew and refuel myself and how to deal with blue funks. 1949 Ford pickups with V8 Flathead engines are a great cure for what ails me.
We were all born lazy, what the book of Proverbs calls a sluggard. When we think about what it means to be lazy we are not talking about some dastardly sin, just the desire to take it easy and relax and sleep in a little, no big deal. Jesus said life is like two door ways, one is small and narrow and hard, the other is big and broad and easy. The big easy one leads to failure and the little hard one leads to life and success. Jesus said very few choose the small hard one , but most choose the big easy one. A person can train themselves like an athlete to like the hard way instead of the easy way. People who train themselves to choose the hard way become strong and wise and because they are traveling the road few take they will become very successful in life. Strong people have good marriages, and raise tough kids, and generally just enjoy life more. Every day when I get up I declare to myself and God, “today I will choose hard not easy”. Help me Lord!!