One of the major blessings in my life now is my grandchildren and I am fortunate enough to have many who live close and who I get to spend time with almost weekly. Proverbs 17:6 says that “Grandchildren are the crown of old men, and the glory of sons is their fathers.”when we were raising our kids, one of my goals was to teach them to be diligent in character, and to enjoy working hard. One of my favorite things to do with our grandkids now is to work with them, and see if I can’t infect them with this joy of working hard and accomplishing something worthwhile. Because of the nature of our flesh we are all born lazy, but good parents will instill the character trait of diligence, and good grandpas will work at and aim to instill that character trait in their grandchildren as well.
I went with several friends last night to see the move “12 Strong”. A war movie about 12 guys who go into Afghanistan shortly after 9/11. It was a good movie, and the last battle scene was worth the price of the movie, the pop corn, and the soda pop. War is pretty much what the nations have done since the beginning of history, there is not many stretches of time when there wasn’t a war going on someplace. Watching the last battle of the movie I couldn’t help thinking how I would have done in that situation when I was younger. Those who survived had to think fast and make decisions quickly and accurately, and to be very decisive in their actions, they also had to be incredibly well trained and skilled in fighting and shooting. Whenever I see a war movie, and there have been some really good ones over the years, I am very thankful all over again for two things, the fact that I never had to go into combat and kill somebody, and I am very thankful for those who weren’t as fortunate as myself and ended up over in Vietnam, Afghanistan, and even worse places and fought, and experienced all the trauma that I get a small sense of watching a movie. Being genuinely thankful and appreciative for the actions and bravery of people that I have never met is so important, because of them I can sit here in my recliner writing this blog in peace and security. There are a lot of naive, self – absorbed people in the world today who have a difficult time thinking past their own needs. I really don’t want to ever slip into that way of thinking and acting.
Dear Lord, I love you! Thank You for orchestrating my life in the perfect way. Give me wisdom to know what to do in every situation You sovereignly put me in, and I especially thank You that I am going to live forever with You.
One of the cool things about being a believer in and a follower of Jesus is that when we blow it we can be forgiven, but it is not just a given, there are some requirements. Proverbs 28:13 explains what those are, “He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion.” To confess our sin to God is simply to acknowledge to God that we have sinned with no excuses, justification, blaming, or ignoring and pretending. We are so prone to protecting ourselves, and afraid of failing even in our own eyes that totally owning the sins we commit is super hard for us to do. But the principle is clear, confess to God that we sinned, own what we did as our responsibility, and then commit to not doing it anymore. We usually do repeat the sin, but in declaring in our own mind to God that we will not do that particular sin again expresses our desire to conquer it, and that brings Gods power and grace into our life. At the end of every day I examine my life and confess all known sin to God, and then I accept His forgiveness. Then I commit to Him that I will pursue righteousness and I ask for His strength to make it happen. It isn’t rocket science, it is clear and straight forward, I just need to do it every day, unless I have a perfect day with no sin, but so far I haven’t pulled that one off yet, but I am working on it.
I am sorry about confusing some of you last night when you tried to open my blog. I tried to put a picture in and I evidently did it wrong and everything went away, and it was so late I didn’t want to do it again, so we will try again tonight.
I am building a boat as many of you know. It is 24 ft long, 8 ft wide and has a flat bottom with a slight rake in the front. It is called a pacific dory, and is a very stable boat to use for fishing in the ocean. It is made out of plywood which goes over ribs made out of 2×4’s and 2×6’s, and then covered with 18 oz fiberglass cloth and epoxy. I filled the various voids between the ribs with 20 cubic feet of pored in place styrofoam which gives it an additional 1,200 lbs of floatation. I have an 85 horsepower Johnson outboard engine on it which is mounted in a motor well 4 ft up from the back of the boat with a center console with the controls and steering wheel, and under the console I have a 65 gallon fuel tank. I put in two bilge pumps that pump 3800 gallons an hour each with a built in activation switch, and I have 4 very comfortable seats in it. I have thoroughly enjoyed building this boat from plans that I bought on the internet, in fact I have had so much enjoyment on this project that I have thought of selling it and building another one.
I will finish painting it, then I will do the electrical wiring, then I will put on the various finishing touches like rod holders, a radio, gps, fish finder, anchor system, cleats and grab bars. The next thing is to do a little work on a boat trailer that I bought for one dollar, and I will be ready to take it on its maiden voyage. My plan is to drive it up to Alaska in July and fish for halibut out of it. I am excited about this upcoming adventure. Keeps me young, excited, and full of passion for life. Sorry for the poor quality of my picture, I got epoxy on the lens of my camera!
Back in 1989 when I began my personal emphasis on prayer, and my emphasis as a pastor on prayer for everyone in our church, I had to exert a huge amount of personal discipline and self-control in order to make prayer happen in my life, and I still wasn’t close to where I wanted to be. Token, convenient prayer that was short and scattered throughout the day which was pretty much the totality of my prayer life before 1989, was easy and it didn’t cost me much time from other activities. Once I began this pilgrimage of becoming a man devoted to prayer, I was overwhelmed by how hard it was to make prayer a priority in my life. On more than one occasion I said, “being devoted to prayer is the hardest thing I have ever attempted to do in my life, it must be the most important”. One of my little sayings that I repeat frequently about becoming a prayer warrior or a person who reads their Bible everyday is, “Being devoted to prayer begins dry as dirt duty, with goals, accountability, alarm clocks, and lots of failure, but if we persevere it will move to habit which is easier, but still a discipline, but if we stay faithful to the habit it becomes delight, that is what we do, that is who we are, that is how we think”. I have repeated that “Law of becoming a Prayer” many, many times, but just recently realized that I have become that kind of prayer, that is who I am, that is what I do almost without ceasing. For almost 30 years I have pursued being a man of prayer like Jesus was, almost like climbing a mountain, one foot in front of another, each step taking great focus and effort, wondering when it was going to get easier, knowing that it would, and all the while resisting the encouragement from many to relax, just trust God, He will make it happen. I know that this present state of practice and faith in prayer I have is a gift from God, but I also understand that I planted the seed and God made it grow. My faith that God works powerfully in the lives of the people I pray for everyday is strong. I know that nothing else that I do makes as much difference in the lives of the people in my church than praying for them does.
I went up to OHSU today to have an ultra-sound done on my kidneys, and then to have a consultation with my urologist. Because my bladder doesn’t work any more, I have to self-catheterize myself every 8 hours, and the chance for infection, or backing up urine into my kidneys because of forgetting and going 16 hours is very real. I have had this appointment on the calendar for awhile, and occasionally I let myself think about it to much and let my imagination get the best of me. I don’t get stressed about things but I do sometimes get a bit somber anticipating a difficult situation, and the choices I may need to make.
We ran into some bad traffic going up, and as I anticipating being late I started getting uptight, and because Patty was driving I decided to close my eyes and take a nap, and try and relax, but because of the traffic she would make these sudden stops that would cause me to sit up with a start. So I decided to work on my memory verses using the App on my phone “Scripture Typer”, but every little bump in the road, every quick start or stop, would cause me to touch the wrong key on my screen, and it would buzz at me as being a mistake, grrrrrrrr.
We got near OHSU and there was major construction going on with flaggers and road closed and detour signs everywhere, and I barked at Patty about her driving. I got out of the car when we got into the parking garage and let Patty find a parking spot while I headed to the 3rd floor. There were so many people waiting to get on the elevator that I had to wait for what seemed forever to get on, and then I mistakenly pressed the wrong floor button and had to go to the 14th floor and back down again stopping at every floor as people got on and off.
As I was laying on my back and then one side and then then other this nurse was moving this flat medal thing around on my stomach looking at a computer screen continually saying mmmm, mmmmm, with me tying to figure out if that meant ” whoooeee look at that!” Or what!
I then went up to the 10th floor and waited in a little room for 15 minutes for my urologist to come in and give me the news. When he came in he asked me a bunch of questions about how I was feeling, and then he started asking me about my upcoming bicycle trip. I thought, “you have to be kidding me, let’s get to the bottom line”. Then he stood up, shook my hand, and said, “by the way your kidneys are fine”, “on the way out stop off at the desk and make an appointment for one year from now and we will do this again”.
On the drive home I apologized to Patty, and then reminisced about my thinking for the last couple of days and tried to learn as much as I could about me, and how to grow in dealing with life, traffic delays, the unknown, and determined to do better next time.
Keeping my thinking process under control so as not to think immoral thoughts, anxious thoughts, angry – bitter thoughts, covetous thoughts, poor me thoughts, critical – judgmental thoughts, and prideful thoughts takes full time attentiveness to what is going on in my head, and when a wrong kind of thought pops into my mind to replace it quickly with thinking that is good, pure, humble, and godly. Sometimes it is so easy to just give in and let my thinking dwell on an event that was hurtful, and wallow around in it like a pig in mud. I do it because no one will know what I think after all, because it takes energy to keep my thoughts herded up all day long and I am tired, and because there is a certain kind of pleasure that comes from my flesh in thinking bitter, angry, poor me thoughts over and over that revolve around an event in which I was not treated well. When I get some news about a possible bad event that might happen in a couple of days it is so easy to allow anxious thoughts to grow strong and to create fear. When my body starts acting or feeling different it is so easy to imagine the worst and to become paralyzed with worry. I create my own joy level by choosing what I set my mind on. I have memorized several hundred Bible verses, and my goal is to set my mind on one of them when I begin to think wrong thoughts, and to make that switch very quickly. When I get lazy and don’t take my thoughts captive quickly I kill my own joy and replace it with sadness, depression, self pity, and despair. After a bout of this negative thinking and corresponding melancholy feelings I wonder why I am so stupid.
Today was a good day at JBC, and in my life. It started with prayer in the kitchen at 7 am, there were about a dozen there this morning, and it was a good time of praying for our church, for Mike’s preaching during the two services that God would powerfully support him and speak through him, and that every word he spoke would be the very utterances of God, and that God would draw people to our church family so that they could know the truth and the truth would set them free. At 8 am I teach a class on the book of Ezekiel, Then I make announcements in the 9 am service and preach a 4 minute mini sermon on the importance of corporate prayer and then I go to the “upper room” and am joined with a half dozen other people and we pray during the service for the service that God will work very hard in every one”s heart. Next I teach a “Ladies Discipleship Class” that lasts for an hour, and then I again make announcements in the 11:30 am service and preach the same mini sermon, and then I pray during the service in the “Upper Room” for God to work powerfully in everyone’s life. At 1:00 pm I teach my “Men’s Leadership” class, and then at 2:30 pm I go through the prayer cards turned in after each of the services. At 4 pm I head home and take a short nap, and then I work on my boat until 9 pm and then head back home and ride my stationary bike for one hour and do my Bible reading while I ride. Then I sit in my recliner and read and write my blog and now it is midnight and I am going to sit in my hot tub and go to bed. Awesome day!!
Our physical bodies get sick, colds, the flu, and more serious things, much more serious that end up in death. Last week was a busy week with “Pastor’s Seminar” being held which I teach for 15 hours. The day afterwards Patty and I both got sick, her much worse than I did. It is a bummer getting sick, no strength, aching muscles, runny nose, sore throat. I slept in this morning until almost 10:00 am and felt pretty good after that, nothing like 10 hours of good sleep to cure what ails you. Patty is still feeling pretty wimpy, but I predict that in the morning she will be a ball of fire. Sickness is part of life, we all get sick, and there is a reason it, we all know that believers are going to live with God for all eternity. In this life we are growing in character, that is what this life is designed by God to do, grow our character, to be like Christ so that when we get to heaven we will be like Him so that we can enjoy Him and He can enjoy us. Sickness grows our character if we respond to it correctly, so when we get sick, think right, act right so we can grow. Don’t whine, complain, feel sorry for yourself, be grumpy, or blame God. Instead choose to be pleasant, gracious, patient, nice, and happy in spite of the way you feel, impossible you say, unreasonable, not really.