Monthly Archives: July 2017

Plans and problems

I have been in Soldotna, Alaska with friends and family for the last two weeks fishing for Sockeye Salmon, and I have been having a wonderful time. We caught lots of salmon, ate lots of great food, and had wonderful fellowship. It was the perfect vacation. Went to Kenai this morning to board the plane for Anchorage and then home, but the flight got canceled because of fog. Our biggest, most important service of the year is this Sunday as we have our big baptism service at Lake Charles, so I really want to be home for that service very much!! So I got another flight out of Anchorage to Los Angeles and then back to Portland, a total of 9 hours of flying, it was the only way to get home in time for the baptism. We had to drive 3 hours to Anchorage to catch the flight, and we made it in time. When I landed in Los Angelos my flight was late and my flight to Portland had already left, so I got rescheduled to leave Los Angelos  at midnight.  Wow, I think I will eventually make it home and to the baptism, but what a circular route to make it. 

As I stood in numerous lines today to get rescheduled I observed many angry people who were in the same boat I was in. Today, I worked hard to be gracious and kind in all my communication to people. I smiled whenever I was talking, and gave many compliments for good performance, as most were receiving lots of complaints. There are so many unhappy people in the world today, who feel like victims.  I am very happy, I enjoy life, I enjoy problems, I enjoy conquering problems, I rejoice always, and try hard never to be negative or grumpy to othet people. The only way I can pull that off day after day, especially in trying days like today, is to pray constantly ” Dear Lord, please help me now to please you in the words I say, and the attitude that I display. You are my Lord and today I will follow You and Obey you no matter how hard the assignment. God loves to give His strength to those who desire to serve and please Him in all that they do. 

I killed my baby

My baby was my 9 foot G Loomis steelhead fishing rod that I have been using here in Alaska as I am fishing for sockeye salmon on the Kenai River. It is an awesome fishing tool, but I slammed our van door on it this morning and broke it. I thought I was going to cry, but I managed to not, but when I get back home I think I might need some grief recovery counseling. I am glad it was me that did it and not someone else. One of the worst things I see people do is get upset at someone because they damaged or broke something that belonged to them. Why would we choose to damage a personal relationship over a worldly possession?  I watch  people do it all the time, and they justify their behavior with statements like, “well, they need to learn to be responsible” or “they need to learn to be careful”or, and on the list goes. Teaching others good behavior and consideration for the property of others is great if you can do it graciously and gently, without hurting the other person, but damaging a relationship with a family member or friend over a personal possession is a clear indication that we have a very serious case of the disease called “worldliness”. 

Worldlinessis one of the most subtle and dangerous diseases known to mankind. Worldliness is why people’s love for God grows cold, and they fall away from the living God that saved them. 


We are up in Soldotna, Alaska fishing on the Kenai River for sockeye salmon and Kings. This is some of the best fishing in the world, and all who are here are having a blast catching fish. This past Sunday we took a break from fishing and attended a local church here called Soldotna Bible Chapel. I rarely miss attending a church service on Sunday while on fishing trips, bicycle trips, and hunting trips. If it isn’t possible because of location or circumstances I don’t get upset about it, it is just a commitment that I have that if possible I will be in a worship service every week. There are about a dozen reasons for this commitment, but let me share just a couple. 

Hebrews 10:24-25 says, “do not forsake gathering together as is the habit of some”.  I know there a variety of ways to interpret that verse, but Hebrews was written to Jewish Christians, and they knew the Old Testament well and weekly seems like the norm for gathering to worship God. Jesus said a number of times, “if you love Me you will obey Me”. So I am not going to wink at a clear command given to us by the Lord.

The church is called the “Bride of Christ” and the “Body of Christ” so I believe strongly that my commitment to the church is my commitment to Christ, and my love for the church is my love for Christ. Jesus has created me, died for me, and is nurturing me into His image and character so He can enjoy me  and I Him for all eternity, so I want to please Him with my life and commitments. 

God Grace is God’s power in my life, and God gives grace. He doesn’t give grace in a vacuum. He gives grace to us through other people when we gather together with Him for the expressed purpose of seeking Him.

In our culture today faithful attendance at a local church is not much practiced or appreciated. 

Fishing in Alaska

I am fishing for sockeye salmon, called Reds, in Soldotna, Alaska, on the Kenai River the next 10 days.  I have come every July for the last 18 years, and had a wonderful time catching lots of salmon. It began with an invitation from my good friend Jay Goold who used to live in Jefferson and was a key part of Jefferson Baptist Church, until because of a job promotion he moved to Anchorage. I came with another friend from the church on that first trip who bought my airline ticket, and we caught a ton of fish, and had an absolute amazing time, if you like to fish and catch fish! Several years ago, Tim Groome, another good friend, got so addicted to the fishing here that he bought some property with a small house, remodeled it and added some bunk cabins and now has a fishing lodge of sorts that I get to come to each year with about a dozen great friends. As I think about it as I am fishing away on the Kenai river catching salmon in an incredible beautiful invironment, I think, “how did this happen”? Most people would just call it a serious of coincidences that brought this about. But I believe God is the director of my life, and He causes things to happen. My experience this week is what most would call a blessing because it is fun and enjoyable. But what about the hard things like a financial crisis or a good friend dying. Well the Bible would label those as blessings as well because God is still the director in my life and “He causes all things to work together for good”. Good is not just what is pleasant and fun, but also trials and hard things because if I cooperate with them they produce rapid growth in my character to become like Christ in character. So I need to tell God Thank you for one as well as the other. 

Off on another bicycle trip

August 1st we are headed off on a 2000 mile bicycle trip around the State of Oregon. We will ride for 30 days and average 70 miles each day. We will see a lot of beautiful country,  we will get a bunch of exercise, I will write many pages of curriculum for the classes I will teach this fall, I will for sure lose 30 lbs, I will come home energized and excited about another year of ministry, and I will spend much time with God while I ride.

#17 Character Trait

Of the 26 character traits that I use to examine myself, #17 is being quick to forgive and free from bitterness. Of the 26 character traits, weakness in this one is probably responsible for most relational problems, divorce, and loneliness.  All of the character traits as we pursue them require effort, an established ritual in order to learn the skill, and a sort of rote learning in the beginning stages that seems rather mechanical.  People that I work with to help develop this character trait to improve their dysfunctional family life often fuss that what I have assigned them to do seems so mechanical.  People who have developed this character trait to maturity don’t struggle with bitterness like most people because the inner person has grown to the point that they “don’t take into account a wrong suffered”, they forgive others automatically.  Bitterness has no place to grow it’s roots into the heart of this person. But before this stage of character growth has happened the person wanting to grow in this area needs to daily confess all know sin in their own life and then identify any bitterness, even a very small root of bitterness, and then say to the Lord, “Dear Lord, forgive me of these sins that I have committed today even as I forgive everyone and anyone who has sinned against me of everything and anything they have done that has hurt me or violated my rights, and I acknowledge that if I do not forgive everyone of everything You will not forgive me”.  This little exercise faithfully done at the end of every day will probably take less than 5 minutes, and if faithfully done every night it won’t be long before that  “dry as dirt duty” will grow into a habit, which soon becomes a permanent part of our heart, we will have developed the character of Christ in us. The problem for most is they won’t remember to do this simple routine each night that is so critical to changing and growing. I call these kinds of routines, “brushing your teeth”, in that they need to be practiced with just as much faithfulness.  Type this short prayer in big font and tape it to your bathroom wall where you will see it, and do it if you want to grow.

Bungy Jumping

Well, we did our sky diving thing today, and had a blast. It was my 4th jump, and Lloyd who I went with notched his 8th or 9th jump, and the other guys all were doing it for the first time, and as one of them put it, they had a terrific, terrifying, exciting time. It definitely adds some hot sauce to life. We do it every July if you are interested in going next year.  We have now moved our sights onto another adventure, we are going to go bungy jumping, and it looks like we are aiming for the 2nd week in September, so if anyone is interested you can go with us. I think this adventure will add some extra hot, hot sauce on my life. 

I was thinking today of how much God has blessed me with adventures and cool experiences. Sky diving, bungy jumping, riding a motorcycle around the USA for a month hitting all lower 48 States, riding a bicycle to Fairbanks Alaska, and across the USA twice, traveling to 30 different countries and having some great adventures in many of those like getting arrested and put in jail as spies in Bosnia, having a standoff with a grizzly bear in Alaska, and meeting many amazing people. 

Life for many people is boring, dull, routine, predictable, and safe. Anybody can add some spice and hot sauce to their life by wanting to, making choices as opportunities present themselves, not letting the fear of the unknown inhibit us, and not being a procrastinator, but decisive when the open doors come. 

Fear is a vey bad boss of our life, so whatever you fear conquer it. It might require some counseling, get it, it might require multiple steps, do it, whatever it is do not let fear reign in your mortal bodies. People fear change, flying, speaking in public, coming in last, coming in second, and on the list goes, conquer them, add some jalapeños to your life. 

Don’t be Safe

One of the greetings or “goodbyes” that is popular now is “be safe”.  My response is usually “safe is boring”. What we ought to say as a challenge to each other is “take a risk”. We all have a hard wired desire for comfort, and in our thinking the absence of problems and trials equals comfort so we avoid situations that seem to have high odds for problems or trials. Character, the character of Christ is our goal for living life, we want to become as much like Him as is possible with the days we have left to live. Character is not developed in us by being safe, character is not formed in us by choosing easy. Some things are incredibly hard to do, if we choose to do it anyway we will grow rapidly in character. I am going sky diving tomorrow and I am expecting it to be a great adrenaline rush.  This is my 4th jump. I remember my first jump, and how scared I was. I kept thinking of ways to back out graciously without appearing to all those who knew to be a major chicken.  I went because I kept reminding myself of this principle, and in my self talk my motto for days ahead of the jump almost continually in my head was, “the harder it is the better it is because it makes me grow”. Probably the hardest thing in all of life for me to do is go visit someone in the hospital, because I usually faint or come close to it, and the whole hospital experience seems to create this immense psycological war in my head. But because taking the easy way produces no growth, and I want to grow very rapidly in the remaining years of my life I made a goal to go visit someone in the hospital 6 times this year, once every two months. I am a little behind in the goal so I am looking for opportunities to get caught up. Every morning I say to Jesus, “Today I will do whatever You want me to do no matter how hard it is”.

Death and Dying

We had the Memorial Service this afternoon for my good friend Denny Fryman who died several months ago from a brain aneurysm. It was a total shock, in that he wasn’t sick and less than 60 years old and was very active in life. Denny was a very committed and faithful follower of Jesus Christ, and I think that God was so pleased with Him that He just decided to bring him up to heaven to be with Him. The service today has prompted me to think a lot, almost non-stop about life after death, what it will look like, feel like, and every facet of what the experience will be like, especially the first hour. When a baby is born it enters into this life as a human being. When we die we enter into the next life, what we are really created and meant for. This life is like being in our mother’s  womb, just preparing us for real life.

The key thing to think about is are we ready, where are we going, what will our rewards be like. Dear Lord, “teach me to number my days that I may present to You a heart of wisdom”. As I mentioned a few days ago in my blog, don’t be naïve.

If I Can Whine a Little bit

1 Thessalonians 2:8-12.  Having so fond an affection for you, we were well-pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become very dear to us….. just as you know how we were exhorting and encouraging and imploring each one of you as a father would his own children, so that you would walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory.

I spend at least an hour every day praying for the people in JBC, those who are regulars, visitors, and irregulars. With most I find them on Facebook and put pictures in my prayer journal and read about their life. I enter in information from prayer requests, observations, and conversations about health, marriage, kids, trials, jobs, finances, and especially spiritual condition. In the process of praying at least weekly for every person in my prayer journal I become very emotionally attached even if I don’t spend a lot of time with them or know them well. I rejoice in my praying over victories and growth, I grieve over trials, I agonize over backsliding and lukewarmness, and I pray with great fervency because of observed sin. Sometimes after a long season of praying pleading with God to work in people’s lives I get a bit of a chest ache. Someday when I get to heaven and see everything clearly, I am pretty sure the hour each day I spend praying will have been my greatest contribution to God’s work.

With the nature of our culture and people in our day we all make lots of changes, and one of those changes is people start attending church, stop attending church, come faithfully, stop attending faithfully, stop altogether, go to another church, move to another city or State, get upset at me, or get upset at God. When people just drop out of my life with no word of explanation, or a good bye, it is quite painful. It isn’t a possessive thing, or a loyalty thing, it is a relational thing. I am sure most who move, choose to go to another church, or just drop church think that I barely notice them or think about them, so they assume it is no big deal to me, but it is a big deal. A note, an email, or text would be nice and thoughtful instead of nothing.