I fairly often do or say something that is a mistake. It wasn’t what I intended to do or say, but it is still a mistake. I recently bought some airplane tickets for my son and grandson to Kenai, Alaska so they could go salmon fishing with me. They were round trip tickets, and were supposed to be from July 19th to July 26th. Seth recently asked me what the dates were because he had forgotten so I picked up the tickets to look because I had forgotten as well, and read July 19th to September 26th. He responded by saying “I thought this was a one week fishing trip, not two months”! Oops, how did that happen? I immediately got on the phone and called Alaska Airlines and explained my mistake, and they very graciously changed the dates. Whooooeeee, I am glad Seth asked, it would have been a bummer to get ready to come home and find out then. Sometimes my mistakes are little and funny and other times they are big and expensive. Sometimes my mistakes can be fixed and other times they can’t be fixed. Mistakes are inevitable, part of life. The problem for most of us is that our mistakes often cause inconvenience for others as well as for ourselves, and often are embarrassing and make us feel stupid or incompetent. I once called a couple by the wrong names as I performed their wedding, preached with my zipper down, once while on the dairy I forgot to put the cap on the milk tank after washing it, and 300 gallons of milk ran in the tank and out the drain.
The main question is what do you do after the mistake, especially if it is big, expensive, and embarrassing? I wrote out my response several years ago, because I found that if I wrote out what to do I got over it quick, but if I didn’t have a pre-meditated plan I could fret about it for days and even longer as I replayed the stupid move over and over in my head. (1) Yep, that was a mistake, admit it, don’t excuse, justify, or blame. It may have been a typo, I might have been tired, it doesn’t really change anything, so don’t don’t make excuses, it just makes me look like a wimp. (2) Laugh! Laugh at myself! Most mistakes are funny if I can just relax and recognize that it was a mistake. (3) Learn whatever there is to learn if the mistake was a result of not knowing or understanding something. (4) Fix whatever I can fix, if I can’t fix it, be humble enough to try and find someone who can, if it isn’t fixable, admit it, and don’t keep trying to resuscitate a dead horse. (5) Apologize quickly to anybody that is impacted by my mistake, again without excuses, blaming, or justifying. (6) Offer to make restitution to anybody that experiences financial loss because of my mistake. (7) Write the details of the mistake in my journal so I don’t forget the experience and can use it as an illustration in a sermon or a blog, a good illustration or story is worth a lot. (8) Make a resolution. “I will work hard at not doing that again”!! and (9) once I have done the above eliminate all self-scolding and negative self-talk, it doesn’t change anything.
Road my bicycle outside on the road for the first time in a year. Doesn’t seem that long ago when we road from San Diego to St Augustine, Florida, but it has been over a year. I ride my stationary bike an hour almost every day so my legs didn’t bother me today on my 9 mile ride, but my neck and hands killed me, and my butt was screaming pretty good as well. I leave on August 1st for a 30 day, 2,000 mile bike ride around the circumference of Oregon. Patty will be coming on this trip and will be driving our Kia pulling a little trailer. It will be fun camping with her each evening. Because we will be less than 6 hours drive from Jefferson at any point on the trip a number are going to bike with me at various places along the route for anywhere from 2 days to a week depending on their schedule. Anybody who wants to go one day up to the entire trip is welcome. Every year when I go on one of these trips I have a project to work on, usually sermons. This year I am going to update and improve my leadership class material. I will work on it each evening in camp. The Leadership class is my most rewarding ministry that I do, and I am praying that the gays that join this year are hot and really want to learn.
I have some poison that kills ants, and it kills the baby ants when the adult ants take it into their nest. I kill ants and lots of people kill ants. I trap gophers and moles who make a mess of my lawn. I shoot starlings who eat my cherries. I have mouse traps in my shop and I put out poison to kill the little rascals. We shot a possum the other night that was eating our chicken eggs. So far not much of a problem with most. Several years ago I went on a mountain lion hunt in Wyoming and was able to kill one. Quite a few people expressed various levels of critism and destain for my murdering the poor creature. Is it the size that makes the difference between an ant and a mountain lion, or the beauty, or the intelligence? Sage rats are ground squirrels that make nests in the ground in alfalfa fields and cause thousands of dollars of damage. The owners of these fields love it when people like me come and spend all day shooting them.
People have a distinct difference from animals, we are made in the image and likeness of God. We are created by God with the amazing purpose of living with Him forever and being His friend and companion. Honoring people is important to God because people are important to God, they are His possession, they are His family. One of my goals in life is to please the Lord in all that I do, therefore I honor people. I choose not to be rude to people, even if they are rude to me and even if I don’t know them, because God is watching.
The character trait that I am focusing on this week is “Honoring Others, and Being Free of a Critical Spirit”. I added that second part 6 months ago when this was the character trait I was focused on because I found I could exercise the self-control needed to talk nice and all the while being very judgmental and critical in my thinking. As we pursue maturity one of the upper level skills and disciplines is controlling our thoughts. Most never get there in their growth because there is no accountability, that is nobody knows what we are thinking, and so we relax and let our thoughts go wherever they want. There are at least 4 major problems with relaxed, uncontrolled thinking.
1. Our mind seems to have a mind of its own as we are thinking thoughts all day long at a very rapid speed. Left to it’s own our mind will naturally move in a negative direction and will have increasingly more immoral thoughts, critical thoughts, prideful thoughts, bitter thoughts, covetous thoughts, selfish thoughts, and angry thoughts
2. The devil’s primary way of controlling us is through our thoughts. He and a bunch of demons talk to us constantly and we hear them in our thoughts. If we don’t take control over our thoughts he will have a growing control over our life as he captures our mind.
3. If we think certain kinds thoughts repeatedly we will act that way, “as a man thinks so he is”.
4. God knows what we are thinking, and He is the one who blesses me on the basis of my behavior, including my thoughts. He is the one who gives opportunities to do something significant with our lives.
5. Our emotions of joy and sadness are very much influenced by our thinking habits.
Patty and I raised 8 kids so I am a Father for sure. I enjoyed very much the emails, text messages and phone calls from our kids today, as they verbalized their appreciation and love for me as their Dad. Patty and I weren’t perfect parents, and I wasn’t a perfect father, nobody is, but I worked extremely hard to be one. I read book after book on parenting, and we went to many seminars on parenting as well. I prayed for every one of our kids by name every day, 365 days a year, and I don’t remember missing a single day. We kept all of the kids out of school on Mondays and had family work days, family projects, or a trip for the day someplace interesting. Over the years of their playing sports I think I could count on one hand the number of games I missed. As busy as I was as a pastor I didn’t ever put my family second to my job and ministry. Today Our kids all love Jesus, have good marriages except for Seth who isn’t married, are raising good kids, and love us. I have messed up in a lot of areas in my life, but I am so glad that I made our kids a main area of my life.
I have had some dreams in the past that were scary, even to an old guy like me. The worst ones come when I am taking this particular brand of malaria medicine when I go to Sierra Leone, West Africa. Most of the times the dreams are exciting and fun, like getting an elk that is so big that it will easily qualify for the Boone and Crocket record book, but occasionally there is a spooky one that wakes me up. One of the spooky ones was where I was in a triathlon and part of the race had the contestants swimming through an underwater cave. In my dream I was swimming through it and I was running out of air so I swam as fast as I could with an increasingly sense of desperation that drove me to swim ever faster until I made it to the surface on the other side and I could breath. When I broke the surface of the water in my dream I woke up and took this big gulp of air, and then I laughed!!
In real life I want that same sense that I had as I was straining toward the top with every ounce of energy within me in two areas of my life. I want it as I pursue Christ like character in my everyday life, never being satisfied with my level of maturity and character development but consumed with getting better and better. Also I want that pressure in me to do more for Christ, and to bear more fruit for him. Often in life I get so frustrated at myself that things are going so slowly. IT Is kind of funny to think that this nawing sense of of desperation to reach more people for Jesus is my greatest friend.
We have been gone for a week of camping and fishing with a bunch of family, and we are driving home now. I am not sure what others do in similar situations, but I make “to do” lists in my head of all that I need to get done in the next couple of days. I make a list of about 10 things that I can remember, and then in about 15 minutes I remake it as I remember something else that needs done and ought to be in the list of 10. Usually after about 6 revisions I am satisfied with my projected projects for the next couple of days. Then I start in on my strategy of how I am going to accomplish the list. Some things are fairly simple, “call so and so and set up a lunch meeting”, others are a bit more complicated like, “finish preparing my Revelation class lesson”, fix my pickup, and answer all my accumulated emails, and then there are a couple of challenges, like ” resolve conflict with so and so” which I will think about for some time to work out wording. Top on my list is to fix the financial situation that we are in caused by the unexpected $2000 expense of our boat trailer axle breaking on our fishing trip to Brownlee Resevoir East of Baker Cityand the huge fork lift required to get it off of the road and the flaggers required. For some that pressure is very unpleasant, but I enjoy the challenge of figuring this out and fixing it. I have already come up with several options and I am plotting the steps that I will take in the next couple of days to make it happen. In the process of making this list, and planning my life for the next couple of days I mix in conversations with God asking for His wisdom and strength and that He would bless however He would like as I work. At the top of my requests is that He helps me to live and talk about stuff in a way that would glorify Him, influence people’s lives by my example, and that His joy and peace would fill my life and that it would be obvious to all who are around me. Hey, we are just about there! I guess first thing on my list is to unpack all the stuff on the boat and put it away.