I heard a song today called, “I am Over Half Way to Heaven”, written by a guy who was 42 years old. It seems like it was a long time ago when I was 42 years old. It was a good, positive song about our faith in eternity with God. Well, if I were musical I would write one about being 3/4’s there, though it might be hard to get things to rhyme. It is getting closer, for sure, the day that I am out of here. I haven’t written any goals past 2035, when I will be 87 years old. That is actually quite a bit of time left yet if I make it that long, almost 20 years. It is going to be really cool to get my new body! I am so curious what it will feel like, and if we can fly, and how sharp my mind will be, and how well I will be able to see, and how strong I will be, and how well I will be able to sing, and what everything is going to look like. Sometimes I literally can spend an hour pondering, imagining, wondering about eternity. There was a time in the past that it seemed almost morbid to think about my impending death, but now it is like when I was thinking about going to Hawaii. I think about it with great anticipation. There is still a lot I would like to do before I go, but if I die tonight it has been a great life with lots accomplished and experienced, so I am ready. The cool,thing about getting to the point that I am now at in my faith where I have zero doubts about heaven, God, my salvation is that I have zero fear about getting cancer, my Parkinson’s getting worse, or getting run over while I am bicycling this summer. God has my life planned, and I am going to make the most of whatever I have left to live.
I write this blog almost every day averaging about 300 words per blog entry. It takes a fair amount of time to write it as I think and ponder on the content, and attempt to write it using just the right words so that it communicates clearly what I am trying to say. So why do I do it? The “why” question is always the hardest to know the answer to, what is my motive, really for what I do? I think and reflect about this often, because I know that motive is important to God, and determines much of the blessing He will give to me for what I do. As I have often said, “I can do all the right things, for all the wrong reasons, and not even know it”. I may not know my own heart, but God does, and I want to, and I am working at it.
So, my stated purpose is, “I write this blog to communicate the truth of God’s Word in such a way that it makes sense, motivates those who read it to live it, and in the process entertains them so that they come back day after day, tell others about it, and the number who are reading it grows steadily.”
Motives can also change, so it is important for me to read this purpose statement often so that I don’t drift. I do that just before I write each one, and then I pray and ask God for wisdom as I write, and I ask Him to bless me and to work in a way that only He as God can so that the number of readers grows as my ability to communicate and motivate grows as well.
The word perfect seems to be the new word for “cool”, or “great”, or as I usually say “super”. It really doesn’t mean perfect in the sense of zero flaws just above average. The Bible uses the Word perfect to describe our character. The Bible says Jesus became perfect as a man through the things which He suffered. Now for Jesus the word perfect would mean perfect, without character defect or flaw. God’s desire for each of us is that we would become perfect, and for us that means “becoming like Jesus” in character. How do we do that?
If getting phisically stronger was our goal, and we heard about one exercise that would strengthen every muscle in our body rapidly and in balance we would probably give it a try. There is one exercise that will make us strong in our inner strength, and develop our character to be perfect, and do it rapidly.
James 3:2 For we all stumble in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body as well.
The one exercise that will make us mature and grown up in our character is working hard to control how we talk. Eliminating rude, mean spirited, critical, speech, eliminating gossip and slander, and eliminating argumentative, vindictive and angry speech will be hard but very possible, and the effort will spread to every area of our life and we will become perfect.
I like the idea of becoming fully grown up, like Jesus in character, and I like challenges. I think I will take on this challenge and work hard to control every word that comes out of my mouth. The cool thing about being a Christian is that as I pursue the character of Christ, God will honor that pursuit and give me the strength to accomplish it successfully. I know it won’t happen overnight, but I will be faithful in my pursuit of it.
When we forget our ability to choose, we learn to be helpless. Drip by drip we allow our power to be taken away until we end up becoming a function of other people’s choices—or even a function of our own past choices. In turn, we surrender our power to choose.
A verse in the Bible says, “Do not be conformed to this world”, that is don’t try to fit in, be different. Not different weird, but different good, different right. All day long we all make choices. Some are simple such as what we will eat for breakfast, and other choices have significant influence on others, such as the choosing of the words we will speak to another person who is hurting, depressed, discouraged, confused.
Non-choosing is mindlessly acting, speaking, spending like those around us. It easy that way. We don’t stick out, look different, make waves. Just fit in.
Every morning I declare my choices and commitments. This is what I will do today. Today I choose to follow Jesus fully, to obey Him in every detail of my life. Today I choose to love my wife, to be a one-woman man, today I choose to love anybody and everybody God soverighnly brings into my life no matter how difficult they might be to love, today I choose to forgive anybody and everybody of anything they may do to me, today I choose not to get angry, not even a little bit irritated, at anybody no matter what they may have done.
I forgot to take my Parkinson’s medicine today. I don’t realize how well that stuff works until I forget to take it, and then when I start twitzing and jerking, and my muscles start hurting like crazy I realize I forgot, and I become really thankful for that medicine. I have a little pill box that has compartments for the three times a day I take it and for 7 days for the week, so when I can’t remember if I did take it or not I can just look in the box, and see if the pills are gone or not, but I forget to put them in the little box. Forgetting to take them is a pretty big deal, you would think that the seriousness of forgetting would make me remember, and it does most of the time.
I forget to read my Bible occasionally, and periodically I forget to spend time with God in prayer. I think the consequences of that are pretty significant, but it isn’t immediately evident like forgetting my medicine. The consequences of not spending time with God in His Word and in prayer is lack of joy, loss of peace, self doubt and low self worth, weak faith, and the list goes on. The problem is that the consequences that we experience from forgetting God are ones that we think our circumstances caused, that people caused, our job, our spouse, the weather, the neighbor’s dog, so we become victims in our mind instead of the cause.
When we don’t make the connection between our lack of joy, peace, hope, security, strength, and contentment, and our forgetfulness in regards to Bible reading and prayer we will not be motivated to be very faithful in these practices.
I have a pill box to remind me to take my meds, and I have a little list that I check things off as I do them and first thing on the list is read my Bible and pray. The blessings That come into my life from faithfully doing these disciplines are to important to forget.
1 Timothy 2:1-2 First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.
The Apostle Paul wrote these instructions to Christians to pray for the Kings and all who were in authority during the rein of the Roman Emperor Nero, who persecuted Christians severally. Nero’s persecution was incredibly cruel with many being publicly killed and eaten by wild animals and many being covered with wax and lit on fire. Paul had just been released from prison, and would soon be arrested and martyred by Nero.
Proverbs says that “the heart of the king is in God’s hand like water, and He can turn it wherever He wants”. In the Old Testament book of Daniel, Nebacadnnezer was a wicked, prideful King but God worked in him and changed him through the prayers of Daniel. It is a very fascinating story of God’s sovereign and unique working in people’s lives.
I always want to do things God’s way, and not allow the world to control my attitude or my behavior. God does bless those who obey him.
Sometimes when you go fishing you don’t catch fish, and sometimes when you go fishing you do catch fish. My friend Matt and I limited out on these hatchery steelhead and also released that many more wild steelhead recently on the Siletz River. It was a very good day. One of my basic rules of life is “when you have a day when you catch a lot of fish- rejoice”, and “when you have a day when you catch no fish-rejoice”, there were still a lot of really good things that happened, and if I look for them I will see them, and then say, “thank You Lord”. Fishing is really not that big of a deal compared with so many other areas of life, but if I can train myself to always look for positives when fishing, maybe I can do it in everyday life, especially on those days when it seems everything is going wrong. The Bible says, “Rejoice always”, and it also says, “grumble about nothing”. It is amazing how we can improve our “see good things” vision when we train ourselves, and then life is so much more enjoyable, for us and for those around us.
This picture is one that I took on our bicycle trip across the U.S. from San Diego, California to St Augustine, Florida, last year. There were bunches of these critters in this game preserve we walked through in Florida. This isn’t a dragon but he sort of looks like one, and writers from years ago who wrote about dragons and their power often referred to alligators as dragons. In the Movie series “The Lord of the Rings” dragons are common, and are the enemy.
I am teaching a class on Sunday mornings at 8 am at JBC on the book of “Revelstion”, the last book in the Bible. Many don’t understand the symbolism in the book and get confused by the characters in it. Tomorrow morning I will be on chapter 12 and the topic will be “the great dragon, the serpent of old, the devil who deceives the whole earth”.
Evil is very real in our world today. The source, the author of, the initiator of all this evil that we see is the devil, the great dragon who is our enemy. In life our struggle is with this great enemy of our soul who hates God and hates us and wants to destroy us. We can learn how to win this daily battle so that we aren’t defeated and constantly making choices that make us miserable.
Armies learn how to do battle in such a way as to win. Those who are in martial arts learn how and train to win. Football and basketball teams practice long hours in order to win. Each of us can win in life and grow and do the work which God has given to us to do. In the New Testament book of 1 John it says, “I have written to you because you are strong, the Word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one”.
When a person gets close to the end of their life you start thinking about what your life has accomplished, what you have done that really matters, what you are leaving behind that keeps on making a difference. The ministry that God has given me has been incredibly rewarding, but easily the greatest legacy of my and Patty’s life is our family, 8 children, 6 son-in-laws, a daughter-in-law, 22 grandchildren, and they all are lovers. That is, they all love us, each other, other people and they all love God. These last 10 days in Hawaii were fun because of the weather and the beach, but what made it great was spending quality time with the two families that are farthest away and that we don’t see very often. Their individual lives, their character and their personal growth, was so enjoyable to observe. Their marriages are beautiful, the unity, interaction, and love for each other. Patty and I parented our kids with a plan, goals, and principles, and it is so enjoyable to be around our grandchildren as they played with each other, and to see the interaction between them and their parents and to see the same principles being used , (not nessasarily the same methods) and the obvious results in their lives. This picture of Patty, Sally and Shelly at the Honolulu airport as we were leaving is a picture of our lives.
It has been a very nice time here in Hawaii with our kids and grandkids for a week of sun shine and swimming on the very beautiful beach that our beach house was 50 feet from. This evening we had a nice going away dinner of barbecued steaks, Hawaiian sweet potatoes and broccoli and apple crisp and ice cream for dessert. Now we are checking in on line and printing our tickets and baggage cards, and then tomorrow at 10 am off we go to the airport. We will land in Portland at 11 pm and should be home in our own bed by 2 am., and then back to the basic responsibilities of life with fervor and passion. That is how life is, seasonal. There are times of intense pain, we all have them, there are times of great fun and relaxation, there are times of super fruit bearing and accomplishment, there are times of great effort but failure, there are times of confusion and panic, there are times of depression and despair, there are times of conflict and hurt, there are times of total exhaustion, times of rest and sleep, and then there are those times of resurrecting from the dead as it were with new vision and dreams for the future and a sense of invincibility. Some of the times are awesome and others are the pits, but they all come over and over as life goes on. The wise person enjoys and makes the most of the Super times, and trusts and reflects during the downer times. And also the wise person with grit determines that no matter what season of life they may be in they will never feel sorry for themselves or be upset with God.