Monthly Archives: May 2017

Separations

At 5 am our youngest daughter, her husband Aaron and their 3 kids left to drive to the airport in Portland to fly back to their home in Hawaii.  Last night when Patty asked if I wanted to get up to see them off this morning I really didn’t want to. It wasn’t that getting up at 4:45 was hard, I do that all the time to go fishing, or that I didn’t want to see them before they left, but saying goodbye on Tuesday evening I knew was going to be much easier than this morning as I watched them walk out the door and drive down the driveway.

Though at this point in my life I have experienced a lot of separations from family and friends that I am really close to who have left for an extended period of time just like Sally and Aaron did this morning.  I have also experienced  longer separations of family and friends that I love, who have  to heaven.  Because of the volume of these separations I think that I am getting considerably less emotional than I used to.  I don’t think it is because of getting used to it or a bit hardened in my emotions.

I think that over the years that I have mentally processed the pain of the separations enough so that a sense of faith has grown in me that is confident in the future  gathering of all my family and friends together forever because God is powerful enough to do it, and He is faithful to keep His promises.  The knowledge of the promises of God for the future begin as academic  theology that I believe but still more in my head than in my heart. As a result of the over and over thinking about what the Bible says about separation and re-gathering it is now just a minor deal that I recover from in a few minutes.

Again, I don’t believe that I have become hardened or indifferent to these separations because of the volume of them, but I do think that I have grown to be strong internally because of the growing faith that God is totally in charge and that I am getting closer everyday to the time when the regular pains of life are all gone.

Shad Fishing

I went Shad fishing today on the Colombia River with both my sons, Sam and Seth, my son-in-law, Aaron from Hawaii married to our youngest daughter Sally, and my 12 year old grandson Isaac. We caught 300 Shad in 8 hours of fishing. Isaac caught 72 of them, and he was one happy and excited fisherman. I had a wonderful time today, not as much from the fishing, and I love fishing, but because of spending time with my family watching them have fun. As I watched today, I repeatedly said to myself, I am an incredibly blessed man. Then I would pray,”thank You Lord for blessing me with such an amazing family”.  Thank You, thank You, thank You!!

My Dad was a really good fisherman, and some of my best memories of my Dad are fishing with him. My favorites are when we would go fish at a place where there were others fishing, but nobody was catching fish, and then we would start fishing and Dad would catch fish, then he would share with me why he was catching fish when nobody else was, and then I would catch fish as well. Wow, a  skill like that made a kid feel special. Dad would say “fishing is a skill” and it is usually just a couple of very little,things that make all the difference in the world between catching and just fishing. 

Life is like that. The difference between hugely successful and mediocre is often just a couple of little, simple, and easy things done repeatedly until they become a habit and a skill. “Success is usually the result of a few simple, easy, little things done faithfully, repeatedly, and for a long time”. That little statement is one of my written down philosophies of life. 

Success

The word success is a good word. It is a word that is in the Bible. It is a word that we would like to describe us, at least I would. To be successful means that we are accomplishing the work God gave us to do. It means we are bearing much fruit. It means we are doing something that matters, really matters, that is making a difference in the lives of people, lots of people. What does it take to be really successful? It doesn’t take above average intelligence, a good  education, a charming personality, or great gifts, abilities or talents. 

Success is simple, it is basic, and it is not hard to do the things that bring success. But very few people are successful. Why? Successful people do a number of little, simple, easy, disciplines almost everyday for a long time. A penny doubled everyday for 31 days ends up being over 10 million dollars. An easy discipline like reading the Bible 15 minutes a day, spending 15 minutes devoted time in prayer with God every day, reading 10 pages everyday in a good book, examining my life and confessing all known sin to God everyday, declaring Jesus as Lord of your life everyday, telling your wife that you love her 5 times everyday, and spending 15 minutes in hard exercise everyday. 

As I said very few do these disciplines faithfully over time, but they guarantee a fulfilled life so why don’t more do them. (1) They are easy to do, but they are also easy to not do. (2) Not much happens at the start, you have to be faithful over time, and most want instant success or they won’t try. (3) The individual disciplines don’t seem like that big of a deal that they will bring success, they are so easy to dismiss as not very important. 

Faithfulness

Faithfulness is one of the 26 character traits that I review and study  for a week twice a year, and examine my life by. Of the 26 this particular trait is possibly the most important for general success in life. General success is what I would call being successful at work, in our marriage, raising our kids, in our finances, in our friendships, and in the ministries that we would do in our church. Faithful people have this inner compulsion to keep their promises, especially the little ones that don’t appear important. Faithful people would rather take a beating than quit anything. Quitting just goes against the very fiber of their being, even if it appears pragmatic to do so. Faithful people do the responsible thing even if no one is looking or will ever know, because it is the right thing to do. Faithful people get a special sense of satisfaction in finishing a race even if they are the last ones over the finish line. Faithful people give security to those in their sphere of influence. Faithful people are the ones who will read their Bible every day for years and years though it would be easy to skip a day occasionally. 

How do I become more faithful as a person? How do I become more faithful in my inner character? A key way is to recognize how much God values it in us, and how much He rewards faithfulness. The Bible is full of promises and rewards in regards to faithfulness. If you do a simple word search on your Bible program on your computer, or smart phone, and then look up the references you will find the motivation to pursue faithfulness in almost every reference you find and read. Memorizing some of the more emphatic verses made in the Bible about faithfulness is a very effective way to grow in this character trait. One of mine is Matthew 25:21 where Jesus says, “well done good and faithful serpent, you have been faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things”. That motivates me. 

Boss

Several guys in the church greet me as “Boss”.  Actually in my life right now I don’t really boss anybody. I am technically the boss of the staff at JBC, but they all know what they are doing and have their goals, agendas, and visions, and I don’t tell them what to do very often. I encourage and motivate occasionally in regard to faithfulness and being responsible, but that is about it. I don’t boss my kids or grandkids. Occasionally I will fuss about something to Patty in regards to her driving, but she seldom does anything but smile in response.  Nobody bosses me around either. Occasionally someone will make a comment about something that they don’t like, and I usually smile and nod my head.

But Jesus is my boss, my Lord, my master, my King.  He is my creator, my savior, my God. Every morning in my “prayer of commitment” among other things I say, “Jesus You are Lord of my life, and today I will obey You, I will do what you want no matter how difficult or hard it might be”.

1 Corinthians 12:3 Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus is accursed”; and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.

John 15:14 “You are My friends if you do what I command you.

Luke 6:46 “Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?

Matthew 7:21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.

A very good question to ask ourselves and answer accurately and with no self-deception is, “who is my boss?” There is quite a bit riding on the true answer to that question.

Deference

I taught on the character trait of deference in my last leadership class lesson. Deference is putting others ahead of myself. Pretend there was a parking lot with 1,000 cars in it, and the people who drove there and  parked them were all going to the same event. The event goes very late and when it is finally over everyone heads for their cars, and the parking lot has just one single lane exit. If Patty and I were there and she was driving we would be the last ones out of the parking lot, because Patty has mastered the character trait of deference. If we weren’t the last ones to leave there would be someone with more deference than Patty, and I doubt that person exists .  Deference is also defined as limiting my freedoms, my rights, and my opinions so that I don’t offend another person, who may have different beliefs and opinions. This doesn’t mean that we are weak, in fact those who consistently practice deference are some of the strongest and most confident people there are, because they don’t have to be right to feel good about themselves.  Our goal isn’t to be right but to influence people toward faith in Christ. God greatly blesses the person with deference with great authority and many opportunities to make a difference in the lives of people. 

The Disciplined Pursuit of Less

Worldliness is a killer of a disease. It doesn’t kill you physically, but it does a lot of damage to our character, our accomplishments for God, our relationship to God, our joy level, and on the list goes. Just for fun I have made a list of 44 negative results of Worldliness in our life, but that is for another blog, or two. One of the ways to proactively reduce worldliness in our lives is to constantly work at simplifying our life. Paul told Timothy his disciple, in 2 Timothy 2:3,  “No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life”.  Getting unentangled from the stuff and the demands of everyday life is not very easy and will require great discipline.

The pursuit of a simple, unentangled life as a way of life, will require constant discipline and vigilance because of the pull of our culture, the nature of our flesh, and the goal of the devil.  It will also require some significant time of reflection about why we do what we do, buy what we buy, and go where we go. When we first think about pursuing the “simple life” it doesn’t seem that hard, but it will be so difficult that most won’t even start and most who do start will give up the pursuit of less.

When I am on a long bicycle trip with everything I need in the panniers that I am carrying on the bicycle I think about the simple life a lot. I acknowledge the fact that I am perfectly happy with a bicycle and 70 lbs of stuff to my name. Of course there are some added needs that come into play as family and ministry are factored in, but the point is that it really does take way less than we are accustomed to owning to be happy and functional.