When I am camping at the Steen’s Mts with my boys it is easy to justify undisciplined behavior, because we are camping, after all. I can easily spend the whole day, eating, fishing, talking for hours about everything under the sun, but mostly hunting and sports, fishing some more, eating some more, and then it is time to climb into the sleeping bag, but wait – I didn’t read my Bible, I didn’t pray, I didn’t spend any time memorizing bible verses, I didn’t read in any good books, but the thought is, “It’s ok, I am camping, and fishing so I don’t need to do those things, just relax and enjoy the rest”. So when I get back home and send a report to my pastor friends who hold me accountable, I label the report, “A fishing report”, which means, “don’t give me a hard time about not praying and reading my Bible, I have an excuse.” I have done that a lot in the past, and it really messes up my momentum, and my commitment. So I decided before this trip that I was going to maintain the basic disciplines. I didn’t do well at all on Monday and Tuesday, falling into my old routine, but today I am doing much better, having repented last night laying in my sleeping bag, and this morning outlining the day and committing to keep the schedule I had made, asking God to give me His strength to be good and faithful.
I am at the Steen’s Mts with my boys, Sam and Seth. They are archery hunting for deer and elk, and I am fishing in Fish Lake where we are camped. I am catching some trout that are 24 inches long, and they fight and pull so hard they pull my little 8 foot inflatable pontoon boat around. The Steen’s is probably the most beautiful, impressive, awe inspiring place I have ever been including the Grand Canyon. There are 5 major gorges that are all amazing, and inspiring to see. It is hard to comprehend that most Oregonians have never been to the Steen’s Mts. Our family has come here almost every year for the last 40 years, usually the week before school started for the opening week of archery hunting. I am not doing any hunting this year, just fishing and listening to the hunting stories in the evening. I am getting in some extra Reading, studying, and writing in this week as I sit in camp by myself while the boys are attempting to kill something. When God created the world and the Kiger Gorges and all the rest He had no blueprint, everything came from him, from His own creativity. The creativity of God is absolutely mind boggling as you look at it. For people to believe that all this amazing beauty happened by chance is also mind boggling to me.
I don’t miss going to church very often, 2 or 3 times a year, in fact I went last night to the Saturday service, so technically I didn’t miss, but I really wanted to go this morning and planned on it. The only responsibilities I had was making announcements, but I planned on praying during both services for those in attendance and for Mike as he preached, and greeting people, especially visitors. But instead I stayed in bed and slept until 2:00 pm, it has been years since I have slept in that much. I am not sure what was ailing me, but I feel super now. If I had been scheduled to do the preaching or had a class to teach I would have made the effort and been there, but it was nice to have the morning off.
One of the keys to running the race, which is our life, with endurance is practicing the discipline of systematic rest. I do really good at resting emotionally by regularly working on a project at home, working on a car, building something going on a bicycle trip, or going fishing or hunting. Those activities allow me to forget about the pressures and responsibilities in my life and get renewed in my passion and enthusiasm for life and ministry. But I don’t do very well resting physically, especially sleeping. I read all kinds of articles on how important 8 hours of sleep each night is to our physical health, our mental energy, and physical energy, but I seldom sleep more than 5 or 6 hours. It is probably the most significant issue with my Parkinson’s Disease, I just have a hard time sleeping for very long at a time. I always plan on taking a nap in the day to make up for what I don’t get at night, but I get so busy that I don’t take the time.
I am thinking about and writing my goals for 2019, I like to give myself a couple of months on the goal writing project. The number one goal on my list of goals this year is to get 50 hours of sleep each week. That is a nice round number, and I am determined to pursue it along with my exercise goal and weight loss goal so as to be able to do ministry for 20 more years.
Yesterday, I wrote from Hebrews 12:1-3 “let us run with endurance the race that is set before us”, the “race” being the life that God has planned for us. The “race” that is our life is hard, it was designed by God to be hard, don’t quit, don’t whine, run. The words immediately following that command in this passage are, “fixing our eyes on Jesus”, that is the key to successfully running and finishing well the marathon called “Our Life”. “Fixing our eyes on Jesus” would obviously mean an intense focus on Him, not just a casual acknowledgment of His existence. Let me suggest 5 things that “Fixing our eyes” would entail ; (1) Jesus is our example and model, we will do what He did, (2) Jesus is our Lord, master, and King and we will do what He commands, (3) Jesus is our helper, and we will ask Him for His strength constantly, (4) Jesus is our friend, and we will remember that He understands us, He got tired, and (5) Jesus is our cheerleader, He wants us to finish well, He is watching, and I will run for an audience of one, I will run to please Him.
I am going to start teaching through the book of Hebrews on October 7th at 8:00 am every Sunday morning and a duplicate lesson on each Wednesday night following at 7:00 pm. I am going to have a little worship time on Wednesday, and make it a service so that those who miss the weekend for whatever reason can have an alternate one to come to.
The key verses for the book of Hebrews is chapter 12:1-3, but we will just look at part of verse 2 for now, “let us run with endurance the race that is set before us”. These dozen words are the main message of the book of Hebrews, and of most of the New Testament. “The Race set before us”, is the life God has planned for us. The whole nature of these 3 verses is that this race is hard, very hard, so let’s get on with it. The key word is “Endurance”, run the race with endurance. What does that mean for us? God has set a race before us, we didn’t choose it, He did, but He is God, He can do that. We can’t change it, trade it in, make it easier, or give it away, it has been SET before us. So, Endurance, what does that mean? Three things for sure; (1) don’t quit, don’t stop, don’t slow down, one foot in front of the other, this is your race, your life, finish like a winner. (2) don’t whine, don’t complain, don’t compare your race with someone else’s, don’t doubt God’s love, endure. And (3) keep your eyes up and on the finish line, it isn’t that far away, Jesus has some cool prizes, win some.
I was cutting firewood today with my Stihl chain saw, while my son Seth loaded his pickup full of oak rounds, drove about 8 miles to our house, unloaded it, and came back. We got about 2 cords hauled to our house, a good day of wood cutting.
I did two dumb things today that I have never done before, but I have laughed and made fun of others who have done them. The first thing was I poured bar oil in the gas tank, I noticed as soon as I started to pour gas in the bar oil tank, and realized what I was doing. I got all the oil out by pouring gas in and pouring it back out, poring some more in, swishing it around in the tank, and pouring it out again. I figured that I put 2 cycle oil in the gas, a little bar oil probably wouldn’t hurt anything. It ran fine after that mess up. The next dumb thing I did was put a sharpened chain on backwards. Needless to say it didn’t cut very well.
In both instances I was mentally asleep. I have been getting up at 4:30 am every morning this week for the start each day of our 5 days of prayer event. Prayer is over at 10 pm in the evening, but by the time I get my one hour stationary bicycle riding in, my Bible Reading and prayer done, and a couple of other disciplines done, it is midnight. I enjoy these “5 day Prayer events” very much when they roll around every three months in our church, but I do get sleepy by the end of the week, and tend to sleep on my feet.
Whatever the reason, I do things like that on a regular basis. I have friends who do the same kinds of things often. Two of them in particular get very angry at themselves, and will call themselves all kinds of names. I guess they are trying to train themselves not to do that again! I almost always turn my my mental lapses into a funny story or joke which I enjoy telling others, because they enjoy hearing about my dumb moves for some reason. Healthy self-worth comes from God, and isn’t really self-worth as much as our sensing His pleasure in our decisions and fruit bearing. When we follow a Him, seek Him, and serve Him He will communicate to our hearts His pleasure in us. Then we are free to laugh at ourselves.
I ran a chain saw for about 3 hours today sawing oak logs into 18 inch lengths that I call “rounds”. I am going to run it about 4 hours tomorrow, and then load the “rounds” into my trailer and take them home where I will split them into firewood with my hydraulic wood splitter that I built, then stacked in my wood shed where it will stay until chucked into our wood stove, and then it will make us toasty warm.
I shared with someone this evening that I was feeling very stiff and sore from running that chain saw today, and they commented that I was almost 70, and shouldn’t be running a chainsaw. They asked who was helping me and I answered that I was doing it by myself, and they with even a more scolding tone than before said, you shouldn’t be running that chainsaw by yourself, that is very dangerous!
I wonder who made those rules? I believe in safety, but I don’t believe in hyper safety. I believe in cautiousness, but I don’t believe in being controlled by fear. I believe in being wise, but I don’t believe in avoiding all risk. I believe that we all are getting older, but I don’t believe we have to act like it.