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.
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.