It is almost April and there is only 4 months left until I leave on a one month bicycle trip around the State of Oregon. It will be almost 2,000 miles and we will average 70 miles each day. I have the route all planned out and all of the camp sites picked out. Patty is coming along driving our Kia pulling a little utility trailer and we will camp in a tent each night. Anybody who wants to join me is welcome. You can join me for the whole ride or just a couple days over a weekend. There will be plenty of room in the trailer for your gear unless a dozen or so decide to go, but that probably won’t happen. If you are interested send me an email and I will give you the route and a list of the camp sites. I very much look forward to these annual bicycle trips because of what they do for my health physically and spiritually. I also enjoy the time to read and write at the end of the day in camp.
It is interesting thinking about the chapters in my life. High School was fun and exciting with lots of learning, growing physically and spiritually, and growing up on the family dairy. It was a chapter of little responsibility. College was an adventure with so much more growth and learning how to be independent from my parents. The early years of married life and pursuing success as a dairy farmer was the years of growing and learning how to deal with responsibility, pressure, failure, and really long hours of hard work. Then came the long chapter of being a pastor and all that came with that responsibility in dealing with many different kinds of people. Then 8 kids from screaming babies to married adults. Wow, what an awesome chapter that was. During these coinciding chapters of ministry and kids from 1976 to 2010, some 34 years I averaged 73 hours of work each week in ministry and then all that went with being a husband and a Dad. Those were the prime years of my life from 30 to 60 years of age with lots of energy, dreams, goals, passion, and drive. And now In this present chapter I am riding a bicycle, averaging a mere 40 hours of ministry work each week, and enjoying life to the max. the next chapter will be a really long one in heaven😀
i rented a 10 yard dumpster today to put a bunch of garbage and useless stuff in that we have accumulated over the years. It is quite amazing how we can fill that dumpster up a couple times a year. Reminds me of when we were kids at the county Fair. We were part of a 4-H club and had animals at the fair that we “showed”. We would stay at the fair for 5 days sleeping in the dormitory that they had just for 4-H and FFA members who brought livestock to show at the fair. We had to spend a couple hours each day keeping the area where our club had animals clean and orderly and then we were free to do whatever we wanted. We would go hang out around the dumpsters, they had 5 or 6 for the fairgrounds, and watch and every couple hours one of the guys who collected tickets for the various carnival rides would come and pour his tickets into the dumpster. One guy would climb in the dumpster, and the others would keep watch for any one coming. The guy in the dumpster would sort through and get every ticket that the person collecting them had failed to tear in half for whatever reason. The 5 of us would,usually come up with about 50 tickets each time we did this dumpster “dive” which meant 10 tickets each for any ride in the fairgrounds. We would then go ride until we were about ready to puke and then go dumpster robbing again. Quite the life for a 13 to 15 year old boy. As a pastor I see quite a lot of people who have that kind of life now as an adult. They are trying to find some cheap thrills in life, and when they don’t have enough of whatever they go dumpster diving, that is they make some very poor choices because they want some joy and happiness. Their choices seem reasonable at the time but after a bit of time they bring their natural consequence and then back to the dumpster in hopes of finding the perfect ticket to the perfect ride.
I have so many things on my “to do” list that I am going to have to live to 120 years old if I have any chance of getting them all done. My “to do” list are my goals for my life, and the ones that I am working on now I break down into small components which become my daily “to do’s”. I fairly often rearrange everything on my “life goals” as I get more excited about one than the other. As I rearrange my list I am always trying to maintain balance in my life between my personal walk with Christ and my growth in Christ like character, my family, my friends and relationships, my ministry, my home projects, and my hobbies and adventures.
My ministry goals are impacted by continuing open doors and opportunities that God seems to be giving me. Sometimes I think, my oh my, I don’t need another thing to do do, another conference to speak at, another church to help, another pastor to mentor and coach. But then each evening as I go to bed I ask God for a little bit more to do the next day. I want to do more, bear more fruit, reach more people, write another book, start another church, always more.
And then I also want to go on another bicycle trip, learn how to sail, build a sailboat, kill a moose, build a car, catch a bunch of fish. Whoooee I am making myself tired!
There are hundreds, thousands, maybe even millions of articles, books and studies on how certain foods are unhealthy and others are very healthy for us. Because I have Parkinson’s I get many of these atticles emailed to me. I read most of them, and I make some adjustments in my diet as a result of some of them. I very much appreciate those who send them to me for their obvious love and concern for me.
Though I believe what we eat has some bearing on our health, I believe that what we speak out of our mouth has very much more impact on our emotional, spiritual, and physical health.
Matthew 15:11. It is not what enters into the mouth that defiles the man, but what proceeds out of the mouth, this defiles the man.”
The Jewish people during the time of Christ had hundreds of dietary laws, and in the context of talking about those Jesus says these words in Matthew 15:12. “Defiles a man” obviously could just refer to his spiritual condition, but it seems to me in light of the context that Jesus is saying that the “defiling” is of the whole person, including his physical body. This verse is really quite profound, “It is not what enters into the mouth that defiles the man, but what proceeds out of the mouth, this defiles the man.”
What proceeds out of our mouth is our words. Our words have great power to give life or to tear down, to praise or to curse, to motivate or to discourage, to express love or hate. God created by speaking everything into existence, and we have been created in His image.
My words have great power, and I am resolved to control the words that come out of my mouth and speak only words that edifying and give grace both to myself and to others.
We can damage our own mind in a variety of ways. We can do it as I blogged yesterday by grumbling, we can do great damage to our mind by worrying even to the point that we become insane, more and more is being discovered about the damaging effect of certain things that we eat, we can fry our brain with drugs, with alcohol, and with excessive playing of computer games, and besides all that life just wears it out.
I have Parkinson’s Disease and the literature that I read says that 50 to 80% with Parkinson’s will develop dementia. Many people as they get older become senile and develop major dementia. And then there is Alzheimer’s that seems to be affecting more and more people.
I am working on keeping my mind healthy and even healing it by extensive memorization of the Bible. There are a number of organizations today that use large doses of scripture memory as their therapy for brain damage caused by drugs. 1 Timothy 4:5 in talking about food that may hurt us says, “it is sanctified by means of the Word of God and prayer”. One of my memory verses is Psalms 19:7 “The Law of the Lord is perfect restoring the soul”.
In my simple logic there must be a Creator, there is no way what I see everyday began by chance. If the creator of the world and the universe can do all this He is incredibly intelligent and powerful. It is obvious that we, people are the center of all this creation, and He would certainly communicate with us. The Bible is the only logical choice for that communication of God to man. Because it is the “Word of God” it must be incredibly powerful.
I have been spending 30 minutes every day working on memorizing key Bible passages, but recently I have picked it up to 45 minutes. The “strain” mentally of trying to memorize is a mental exercise that makes the brain syronger. Also the Word of God is supernatural and it is said of the Bible in Hebrews 4 that it is “living and active” doing it’s work in us as we put it in our brain.
I am reading a book that is entitled, “Be Grateful or Lose Your Mind” with the sub-title being, “How Complaining Destroys Your Brain Neurons”. It is a very interesting read, and substantiates the Bible where in Philippians 2:14 it says, “Do all things without grumbling or complaining”, and Philippians 4:4 that says “rejoice always, again I say, rejoice”, and James 1:2-4, “Consider it all joy when you encounter various trials”.
In his book “Emotional Intelligence” Travis Bradbury estimates from surveys that the average person complains once every 60 seconds, and the more we do it the easier it gets, and the more we complain the more those around us will complain. Grumbling becomes a way of life and a culture. Research from Stanford University has shown that complaining actually shrinks the area of the brain that is critical to problem solving and intelligent thought. It is called our hippocampus. Complaining also causes the release of excess cortisol which results in high cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and makes us more vulnerable to strokes.
As parents when our 8 kids were little and growing up one of our goals was to teach them to not grumble or complain about anything, and to be positive about trials and problems that came into their life. One of our parenting tools was camping because anything that could go wrong, did go wrong while we were camping, and then we could teach our kids how to deal with it without whining or fussing.
Every morning I pray a prayer of commitment declaring Jesus as Lord of my life and declaring to Him what I will do and won’t do that day, and then asking for His help so that I can keep the commitments. One of the commitments I make is “today I will not grumble, gripe, complain, or fuss about anything, but I will rejoice about everything because I am saved and going to heaven and nothing else really matters in light of that.”
My boys grew up playing basketball all the way from little kids through college, and I enjoyed very much the hundreds of games that I watched and cheered through. I do enjoy watching college basketball now, and a favorite time of year is now with the NCAA playoffs going full bore. I filled out the “Bracket” like thousands of other basketball fans did, attempting to guess who was going to win each game. I don’t know how many different organizations sponsor a bracket competition, but I filled one out on “Bleacher Report” and I am in the 98 percentile, which means my score is in the top 2%, and it looks like there are about 250,000 who filled one out.
The Apostle Paul used sports as an illustration often as He wrote much of the New Testament. One of his statements was in 2Timothy 2:5 where he was writing to his disciple who he had trained to be a pastor, “Anyone who competes as an athlete doesn’t win the prize unless he competes according to the rules”. Rules are a major part of sports, and athletes who break very many of them don’t win, and often don’t even finish. Every sport has their rules and they are in a rule book that has been agreed upon by all those who play and compete in that sport.
Someone recently asked me what my opinion was on a subject that is debated by many today. My response was “I don’t make the rules, God does, so what I think doesn’t really matter”. I just read the rule book and try to follow them because I want to please the rule maker, serve Him, and love Him. I said, I believe the Bible is the rule book and Jesus is the rule maker. You don’t have to believe what I do, but you should have some source for the rules you follow besides your own opinion. Do you? If every basketball player made up his own rules I wonder how enjoyable the game would be to watch?
I set a B-HAG, a big, hairy, audacious, goal, each year. My b-hag for 2019 is to bicycle from my house to Portland, Maine, and to touch all 48 lower States as I travel. The map above shows my route. It will be about 8,200 miles, and will take about 4 months. I will go by myself unless someone decides they want to go with me in the next two years, and I will carry everything I need with me in my pannier bags on the bike. My goal is to write a book of about 100,000 words on the trip.
One of the reasons for the goal is to help from getting bored with life, and to keep my passion for my future alive and strong.
I like watching and keeping track of College basketball, and right now we are in the middle of the NCAA tournament called “March Madness”. It starts with 64 of the best teams in the United States and ends up with one team that is given the title “National Champions”. One of the fun things is filling out a “bracket” that is your guess on who will win each round and go on to win it all. I filled out my bracket, but there have been a number of “bracket busters”, that is teams who are not supposed to win, winning. 3 of the teams I picked to be in the final four are still in it, so I might not finish to bad. Why does a not so good team beat a good team? There is all kinds of writing and and sports experts pontificating on that one. It seems like an inferior team can win if they somehow ramp up their desire to win to a level that their will to win lifts them to a level of playing that the superior team can’t match. It seems only to happen periodically, just enough to “bust a bracket”. Will, passion, desire, want, drive, fire. How do I get it in regular life, how can I maintain it day after day, can I? I am working at it. I want it for myself even as I get old, and I want to be able to give it to others. I have discovered for myself that having at least one B-HAG, a big, hairy, audacious goal is a key. Having a goal that is near impossible, border line crazy keeps me dreaming and alive on the inside.
Tomorrow is a first for me, I am going to do a two day seminar in a mortuary. I flew to Santa Ana today and tomorrow and Wednesday I will teach most of the day on the topic of prayer, leadership, leadership training, and evangelism, basically the same stuff I teach at our “Pastor’s Seminar” that we host at JBC in January every year. The fellow who owns the mortuary heard me speak about 10 years ago in Utah, and wanted to host this for the local pastors here. He is funding the entire thing, even the catered lunch, because he really wants to see renewal come to the churches in this area. As he described the general condition and mood of the church, I am sure that he thought it was worse here than any place else, but I told him, yep, that is the way it is everywhere that I have been. And, you are right, the only thing that will change it is prayer, but it is so hard to get people to pray, and it seems like it is getting harder. It is a spiritual war. The devil and his demons fear prayer more than anything else because they have no defense against it, so they work diligently to keep believers from praying. They work at controlling our behavior by talking to us, and we hear them in our thoughts. With that talk they are attempting to weaken our faith in the power of prayer to change anything, and they create an unreasonable fear of praying with other believers. The best thing to do is pray, because when we pray our faith grows, and when we pray demons are pushed back out of the airspace around us. It would be great if you would pray for me these next two days that I would be anointed by God’s Spirit and that I would be clear and motivational as I teach.