Men’s ministries of JBC put on and hosted a Poker night at our church tonight We had a free hot dog dinner at 6 pm and then Poker at 7 pm. There were 36 people playing and it was a lot of fun. Lots of people came that I didn’t know but we wore name tags so I met at least a dozen people that I didn’t know. It was a great time of fellowship and making new friends. One of the really cool things for me is the number of ministries in our church that are started and run by non staff people, and also the number of ministries that have as their goal providing an event and opportunity that people who don’t normally come to church would enjoy and that people in our church could invite them to and feel confident that they would have a good time. I have a strong faith in Jesus Christ, that He is God’s Son, became flesh just like us and died on a cross to pay the penalty of our sins. I also believe strongly that God has given us the responsibility to influence people towards faith in Jesus so they could Live with God forever. So an event like tonight’s that influences even just a little bit makes me feel very good about the people at JBC who love people and are trying hard to draw people to a faith in Christ.
watched the conclusion to the Men’s Decathlon tonight, and I guess what I heard them saying tonight is that he gets the unofficial title of the world’s Greatest athlete. What if I decided tonight that I was going to compete in that event next Olympics and my goal was to win the gold medal. Upon hearing of my decision you would probably make disparaging remarks about my sanity. But pretending that I have made that an official goal of mine, a BHAG of the BHAG’s, (big hairy audacious goal) what would I do in the morning? The size of that goal would control most of my thinking, my time, even my money. Most people never set a goal so big that it controls most of who they are and what they will become. I always set at least one like that, i’s crazy, impractical, but so much fun. August 27th is the official starting date of writing my goals for the next year and October 27th is the official day I start after my new goals ( my birthday). The two months that I spend writing my goals are a lot of fun as I imagine, and think about what the desires of my heart are.
Now today was a fun day. A bunch of the kids and grandkids came over and we picked all of our apples and made apple juice. We rented a grinder and press and made about 100 gallons of juice. We started by picking all the apples on our trees and putting them in wheelbarrows, buckets, and boxes, everybody helped. The youngest ones threw the apples into the grinder and Sam and Seth turned the crank on the press. I bought some big, plastic garbage cans with lids that snapped shut, we filled up three of them. Tomorrow I will siphon the juice out of the garbage cans, leaving the sediment in the bottom, into plastic gallon jugs, and everybody will take some home. After we got all the grinding and pressing done and everything cleaned up, we barbecued and had cake and ice cream for one of the grandkids birthday. When our kids were younger, babies through high school we used to have “Monday Work Days”. I would come up with the project and then we would work on it together most of the day. Sometimes the project was to have a big clean day, and we would pick up all the garbage and junk, put it in a little trailer and take it to the dump. The fun part of that project is that on the way home we would stop off at “King Kone” and everyone would get a huge ice cream cone. We always had a fun thing at the end of the project as a reward for working hard. We did painting projects, getting firewood projects, building chicken house projects, and many more. Because we had our 8 kids in the private school that our church ran we could keep them out a few days if we wanted, and they stayed home every Monday. Our parenting goal was to teach them how to work and to enjoy working hard. It was the best part,of their education. Today was just like one of those days, and it was so much fun for me.
interesting book I read a while back on being a leader that creates unity in a team, a work place, a family, or a church called “The Blame Game”, talks about the fact that people blame others for the problems and short comings of the group and in their own lives, and that it is pretty much universal. If you have a bunch of little kids playing and all of a sudden the group begins to fight, shout and cry, and you the parent or supervising adult wade in to bring order you hear every kid yelling at another kid and pointing. As the character traits of self worth, dignity, and wisdom decline in a group of people whether it be as small as that of a marriage or as large as a nation like the United States of America, the volume and the intensity of the blaming goes up. It is interesting to listen to politicians, media people, and leaders of various groups talk, speak, and write today, and ask the question while listening or reading, “what is the wisdom and positive character level of this person, or people. A law of God as irrevocable as Gravity is that we blame others in an attempt to preserve and build our own sense of self worth, but when we verbally tear down another person our own sense of worth and value goes down not up, and a coralory to that is our own worth and value in other people’s minds goes down as well when we blame another person for our problems or that of the group.
1 Peter 3:8-12
To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing. For,
“The one who desires life, to love and see good days,
Must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking guile,
“He must turn away from evil and do good;
He must seek peace and pursue it.
“For the eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous,
And His ears attend to their prayer,
But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”
through out the day most of us are trying to make something happen, we are trying to accomplish a goal or desire, we have an agenda, a to do list. As we attempt to push through our agenda we often find that what we want has a lot of competition. What we want to happen and what we are striving hard to make happen and what actually happens are many times very different. The difference between what we are working to make happen and what actually happens causes frustration, anger, depression, burn out, and a sense of futility. The emotionally intelligent person has learned how to control their feelings at the point where most people are getting increasingly frustrated . A simple example; you have a very important meeting scheduled for 2 pm 20 miles away, and you google it and find that it will take 30 minutes to get there so you being wise leave 40 minutes before the meeting. Shortly after getting on the Freeway the traffic slows and then comes to a complete stop because of a serious accident. As the starting time for the meeting comes and goes you experience this tension. How we manage that tension is a very real indicator of our emotional intelligence and maturity. Playing golf today with a couple of pastor friends what I was wanting to happen, what I was trying to make happen and what actually happened were very different. Thinking about it I came up with this “rule of life”, “the desire to get better actually makes us worse unless we learn to control the negative emotions that rise up inside of us at the point of frustration.”
i write my new goals for the year on my birthday, and because that is just a few days over 2 months away I need to start thinking about what those goals will be now. In writing my goals each year I have some guiding principles that I have collected over the years, and one of my favorites is this one, “if you are going to set a goal to do something you have never done before, you will have to do some things you have never done before”. Seems like an obvious conclusion, but it is often fogotten. The basic fact of life is that most people don’t want to do things that they have never done before, it is to threatening to their security. In order to get over that natural anchor in our life we need to proactively attack it. So one of my mission statements is to “do something every year that I have never done, learn something that I have never learned, and to go someplace I have never been before”. The result of that mission statement is skydiving, a motorcycle trip around the US that hit all 48 states, a bicycle trip to Fairbanks, Alaska, a bicycle trip across the USA twice, and in the summer of 2018 a bicycle trip that hits all lower 48 states. I have learned the skills of bee keeping aquaponics, welding, painting a car, rebuilding an engine, and making soap. Learning new things and new skills keeps you energized and full of passion and fire. I am thinking about signing up for a class in calculus at Linn Benton Community College. Doesn’t have much to do with being a pastor but it sure would work my brain!
one of the most counterintuitive rules of life is “the more you try to do the less you will accomplish”. What that means is that the more different things you are involved in the less you will accomplish, and the fewer different things you are involved in the more you will accomplish. The reason is obvious as you think about it. The transition time between events in our day is the least effective and the most wasted time in our day, and the greater number events means more transition time, and the fewer events the less transition time will be in any given day. Another reason is that all of us do a few things really well and we are mediocre at best at everything else. Those who focus on doing the things they are good at accomplish so much more with their life then the person who tries to do it all. It requires self-knowledge and self-discipline to live a focused life. You have to truly know what you are good at , gifted at, and then not let all the other stuff distract. One of the main battles is that the stuff in our life that is urgent is seldom important, but we allow the urgency of activities to crowd out of our life the most important things that have the greatest potential to make a lasting difference in our life, the lives of those around us and in the world. The most effective tool in my life to help me stay focused is my goals. I choose ahead of time what I Will spend time on. Because I have a lot of goals, 67 this year and 68 this coming year, some might think I am violating this rule, but most of my goals are all related to accomplishing a few really important objectives in my life. My annual goal list is my priority list, my time budget, my energy budget, and a major prayer list. As I get older and my energy level becomes less I need to become more and more focused. My mission statement beginning on October 22nd is ” I want to accomplish more in the next 10 years of my life than I have in the last 40 years of my life.” The only way that will be more than a nice statement is by becoming increasingly more focused on the gifts God has given me.
In the New Testament the Apostle Paul writes to Timothy his protege who he is training to be a Pastor, and in the second letter, chapter 2, verse 5 he says, “every athlete that competes in the games, competes according to the rules or he cannot win the prize”. Watching the Olympics each evening often there are discussions about the rules for the various sports. A common rule that was discussed a lot before the Olympics even got started had to do with performance enhancing drugs. I still remember clearly how sad I felt when I heard that Lance Armstrong was being stripped of all his medals because of that rule violation. I wonder exactly what Paul had in mind and what he was saying to this young man who was aspiring to do great things with his life for God. “You can’t win the prize unless you compete according to the rules”. In our culture today many tend to think that they can decide on the rules that they will live life by. God is God and He is the Almighty and He does make the rules, and He does enforce the rules and He is the judge. All of God’s rules are designed to bring unity, joy, growth, and success. If we break them we will lose and not win. As I pursue the gold medal in life I work at learning the rules and living by them. I remind myself constantly that as I discover the rules of God they are for me to obey and follow, and to teach to those who want to know what they are, but never am I a judge, only God is. As I observe people living by their own rules and not God’s, my thought always needs to be, I wish I could help them so they could be happy and successful, never thinking that they are bad people.
i went to the “Leadership Summit” simulcast in Lebanon put on by Bill Hybels and Willow Creek Community Church in Chicago. They have the best speakers and leaders in the world at this annual event, and it always gets me all jazzed up to conquer the world. One of the speakers, Travis Bradberry who wrote the book “Emotional Intelligence 2.0” really stirred up my mind and gave me some great ideas for my personal goals this next year and great content to teach in my Leadership Classes. It is always fun to learn new knowledge that is practical for living life. Balance is such a key word in life, and emotional intelligence is really emotional balance. When we become very emotional for some reason we often say and do things that we wouldn’t normally say and do, and often we wish we could have a do-over when we aren’t so out of control. On the other hand being flat or unemotional results in low performance in almost every area of our life, and we become a dull and boring person to be around. So the trick is to be balanced. Being emotionally intelligent means being on fire, inspired, passionate, but not being out of control or crazy. Some people have learned how to be that balanced person and they are motivated, fun to be around, and also clear thinking never out of touch with their personal standard of acting and speaking to others. How to become that person!?!?
one of the things I have been doing of late is writing a prayer to God each night. I write this blog most nights so why not write to God. The book of Psalms in the Bible is 150 chapters long and most of it are prayers written to God. Many of the prayers are a prophecy of the very prayers of Jesus. Besides writing a prayer and my goal is 300 words, I also go back and read as a prayer at least 2 former written prayers. It has been rich. Writing takes thinking to arrange your thoughts and that thinking makes the prayers very focused. One of the most often asked questions that I get is”how do you pray without your mind wandering or falling asleep”. My new answer for this question is “write your prayers”. I am thinking that I will give some written instructions to Patty on how to get to these prayers if and when I die and make copies of all of them and give a copy to each of my kids and grandkids to have as my influence on them after I am gone.