Most people believe in God and give lip service to Him, but very few people have a close and an intimate relationship with Him. The reason is that if you are going to be really close to God you must be committed to obeying Him as God. Most have a “parallel relationship” with God, that is they are going in the same general direction as God, but they want to keep their distance from Him at the same time, like two railroad tracks, going the same direction but apart. Why would that be so prevalent in people in general, it is like we are hard wired to be fiercely independent even rebellious at times from infinite, almighty, all wise God. One of the amazing benefits of seeking a closer and closer walk with Him is the gift of joy that He gives to those who honor Him, seek Him, and obey Him. It is a joy that rises above circumstances and events, it is a supernatural joy that thrives in the midst of trials, disappointment and pain. It is a simple matter of choosing, making the commitment,
Just got back from a three day rafting trip down the Roque River. We went through a bunch of rapids, and a number of them with names like Blossom Bar, and Coffee Pot were pretty intense. We camped on the river, ate great camp cooking, and had super fellowship as the 6 of us enjoyed the adventure together. The scenery of the river with it’s high rock walls, boiling water over the rocks and falls, and the basic wilderness of it all was amazing. I am so fortunate to be able to do things like this, and have friends who include me in their adventures. Pastor Mike Dedera, JBC’s associate pastor ran the raft I was on, and all I had to do was sit in the front, hang on and enjoy the trip and the scenery, which I did. The next time I do this I am going to get a Go Pro camera and mount it on my life jacket and have a nice video made from the footage.
i am going to go with 5 other guys from JBC white water rafting down the Rogue River for the next three days. This is a new adventure for me and I am looking forward to it. I probably won’t have cell service so you won’t see a blog from me until Wednesday evening. That first blog after floating three days should have some good stories in it. As I said in my bicycle blog I like for things to be exciting and I don’t enjoy boring, A little boring is ok but a lot boring is not. It looks like the weather is going to be great and the best cook I know is part of the trip so I will gain a pound or two on this 3 day adventure.
There are a lot of very sad people in the world right now. There are a lot of cynical people as well. There are also a whole lot of bitter and angry people, also the number of depressed and those who are in deep despair seems to be growing rapidly. The political scene, the economic debt, the constant news of people getting their heads cut off. We do live in depressing times for sure, and it is probably going to continue to get worse. I am incredibly happy, filled with joy and hope, looking forward to each day with great anticipation. Some people when they hear me say that doubt my sincerity, but I am being very real when I say that I don’t think I could be more happy than I am right now. You might ask, “Why?” What has happened to make you so full of joy? My answer; nothing has happened that has impacted my level of joy, I am happy because I am choosing to think about my wonderful gift of eternal life with Jesus that can never be taken away from me. I can choose to be a happy person by choosing what I dwell on mentally, and I refuse to let the circumstances of the world control my level of happiness. I am not a victim of events and circumstances that I have no control over. I am a child of God headed for heaven forever and I choose to think about that.
In our bedroom on the wall just opposite our bed is a poster of Psalms 37:4 which says, “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart”. I see it every night and every morning and I often ponder about the desires of my heart. What are they? Are they good? In another Old Testament verse it says that “their desires were evil continually” and in yet another verse ” the desires of our heart mold us”. God helps us and guides us in pursuit of noble desires, but evil, selfish, worldly desires are an obination to Him . What I really want more than anything else. I am not hard wired with that desire at birth, I determine that by my own focus in life. Even now as a 67 year old man I can change my focus, my desire, my ultimate want so that I am pleasing the Lord and a recipient of His blessing and power. What is the most driving desire of my heart? Mmmm do I really know? I want to have my hands on the steering wheel of my life and what I really want most directs me and steers me. I wonder how many people really know what the greatest desire of their heart is?
Self worth is not very accurate as a word. Most people’s personal opinion of their own worth and value is based on their perception of what other people’s opinion is of their worth and value. Some can operate under this system of self worth relatively unscathed because they are attractive, athletic, personable, intelligent, and grow up in a stable home. Most though have at least a few deformities, in abilities, appearance, or personality that others notice and peck at. Low self worth becomes a self fulfilling prophecy in that we act, behave, and perform based on our perception of who we are which isn’t that of a champion and others make comments about our low performance and the whole process goes down another flight of stairs. If kids get their self worth from their peers it will be low and it will go lower. Kids with healthy and high self worth usually have parents who love them unconditionally, who praise them way more than they scold them, who major on praising character rather than performance, and spend time with them. Parents are competing with their kids peers over who shapes and molds the inner person, and the basic rule of this competition is “whoever praises your son or daughter the most is the one they will try to please”. A parent must win in this competition for the heart of their kids. When we are the one our kids want to please the most then we have the power to move them to the place where pleasing God is their primary desire. I have a very healthy self worth because pleasing God is the driving desire of my heart, and God’s opinion of me becomes my opinion of me. He says of me, “I love you, I want you to live with me forever, you are worth My Son coming into the world and dying for, you are more valuable than many sparrows”.
Steph Curry won his second MVP award and he was the first ever unanimous pick in the NBA. At the awards ceremony he spent most of his speech talking about his team mates and his wife. In this day and age of arrogant super stars it is so refreshing to hear someone talk who is really good and be genuinely humble and likable. He doesn’t cuss, he doesn’t put other players down, he loves his wife and honors her, he laughs at himself, and he is a believer in Jesus. The basketball experts are talking about how much influence Steph Curry is having on the game of basketball because all the young kids are imitating him. Hard work and practice is Curry’s answer to questions about his success so kids are making that a major focus, and one writer stated that even Curry’s “nice guy” image is having an impact on kids who want to be like Steph. Being nice to people, having good manners, honoring people with our speech, makes us very attractive to others. It is really not what,our culture emphasizes but with a few more good models maybe it will become more the rage.
Over the years of pastoring and working with people who are in the process of destroying all the joy possible in their own life by the choices they are making, I have come to the conclusion that bitterness is the biggest, worst, baddest sin their is. Bitterness is simply the failure to forgive others quickly for the offenses they commit against us. When others hurt our feelings, violate our rights, fail to honor us, take or damage what is ours, are rude, mean, gossip and slander us, the result is we get angry, hurt, offended, wounded, and sad. When we feel deep pain from another person’s words or actions the right response is, “I choose to forgive them because Jesus has forgiven me of everything”. If feelings or thoughts of resentment pop into our mind again then respond with the same prayer and also ask Jesus for help. If the offense is particularly ugly and getting over the bitterness is slow adding a prayer for the person, asking God to bless them will help accelerate the healing, and even choosing to do an act of kindness for them. Many people dwell on the hurt and the wrong done to them and bitterness grows. When we don’t forgive others quickly God doesn’t forgive us and a whole long list,of,consequences kick in and our life becomes devoid of all joy. A very serious consequence according to Matthew 18 is that God allows demons access to our life to make us miserable. So many people will say they aren’t bitter and have forgiven another person, but it is very obvious that they have not by the way they talk about them, treat them, and dishonor them. Bitterness is the most self distructive choice we can make in life. Marriage problems and divorce are sad but the resulting bitterness that stays for years is like poison.
Moral purity is a very big deal to God. Everything that is important to God the devil attacks and works at making it unimportant to the world. He has been very successful in making moral purity a joke in our culture. Another thing that the devil has successfully removed out of our thinking is the “fear of the Lord”. I am asked all the time what the “fear of the Lord ” is, and my response is ” recognizing that the title of God, “God is judge” is just as important as “God is love”. Hebrews 10:10 says, “the Lord will judge his people, it is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the living God”. Ephesians 5:5 says ” this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person has an inheritance in the Kingdom of God”. I can’t imagine what it would feel like to get to the end of your life and hear God say, “depart from Me, you workers of iniquity, I never knew you”. Hebrews 10:29 says, “How much severe punishment do,you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified , and has insulted the spirit of grace”. To insult the spirit of grace is to think that we can live how we want because God is a God of love and will wink at our immorality.
I like to learn new skills. This year I am going to learn how to catch Kokanee, and how to weld. I make a goal to learn at least one new skill each year and sometimes two. Physical skills are relatively easy because they are so measurable and observable so progress is simple to measure. Behavioral skills are much more difficult, especially as an adult. Learning how to be a good and loving husband, learning how to be a good parent, learning how to be patient and never get angry or even a little bit irritated, and the list goes on. Most make zero attempt at learning a new behavioral skill or strength because it is to hard. I pick one area every year to work on that I am weak in. This year it is to eliminate all “trash” talking, or as my wife calls it, “teasing”. I have justified it over the years as “what guys do”. Several of my friends never say anything negative, critical, they never tease, or make fun of anybody that I have ever heard, and they are very enjoyable to spend time with. So far my progress has been very slow,but I have made some. I have been a “trash talker” for a lot of years so I might have to make it a two year project. A behavioral skill I took on several years ago was “never to worry” not even a little bit no matter how big the crisis or problem. I can honestly say that I have that skill nearly perfected. It has been a long time since I have fretted, gotten uptight, been anxious, or gotten stressed about anything. It is a command in the Bible “not to be anxious” so it is obviously possible and it is one that God will give a great deal of help in. I am talking about how to be worry free in my talk at “Men’s Breakfast” at JBC Saturday morning at 7 am. It is a great time and all the bacon you can eat.