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.
We are 2 days into our “Five Days of Prayer” at JBC. We pray Monday through Friday, 5 to 10 am and 5 to 10 pm every day for 50 hours of prayer for the 5 days. As a church we usually have about 1000 hours of total people hours of praying during the 5 days, which is about 20 people in the prayer room praying together every hour. My personal goal is to pray 40 hours, 8 hours each day. If I don’t have anything else to do that is not difficult, but this time of year I have so many things I need to get done that I don’t know where to start. I need to get my Hebrews series finished and get the outlines all written, I need to write letters to everyone who is planning on attending my leadership classes, I need to get that firewood that was given to us in, I need to clean up my shop, I need to get my boat trailer finished that I am building, then there is my regular disciplines of daily Bible Reading, prayer, writing my blog, riding my stationary bike, and memorizing Bible verses, I would really like to get in a half day of fishing, and then today Sherri my daughter asked if I would build her shelves for her office, in her most persuasive way.
So, what comes first, what is last? I write everything down on a piece of yellow legal pad in no particular order, and read it over at least a dozen times, adding notes to the list of addendum chores that will piggyback on some of the things on my original list as I get into doing them, such as sharpening the chains for my chain saw. After reading the list over a number of times I write it in an order in which I will do them, then I read it again and invariably change the order, several times. The first thing on my to do list is always “write a to do list”, so I cross that one off when I get the list finalized, and it feels so good that I jump right on the second. I will make the short fishing trip the reward for getting everything done so now I am really motivated.
This process that I just described is a little bit of a grind, that is, it isn’t particularly exciting, just make a list. The result is that very few people take the time to do it. These weekly “todo lists” are the most effective things I do to take control of my life and get the most important things done first. Getting a lot of things done that matter in a short amount of time, wow, that feels good just writing that sentence down.
I got ready to get on the train in Tukwilla, near Seattle, Washington this morning at 7 am, and head home. Because I bought a ticket as an over 65 year old senior I was required to show photo I.D. so I looked for my drivers license in the normal place that I keep it in my wallet, but I couldn’t find it. I began to look in more and more different places in my wallet until I came to the conclusion, “it isn’t in my wallet”! So I replayed in my mind when I had taken it out, and realized that I had done the same exact thing in Albany 2 days earlier when I came up to Tukwilla on the train. I had taken it out and put it into my pocket so I would have it ready to show, but they never asked for it, and I didn’t remember ever putting the license back into my wallet, so it still should be in my pocket, but it wasn’t. I wore the same pants for the 3 days since I left home so I mentally retraced my steps for the 3 days trying to figure out where it could have fallen out at. About then the train conductor came up and asked for my ticket, and I asked him if a drivers license had been turned in, in the last 3 days, he immediately got on his handy dandy radio and in a few minutes said, yes, it is in the lost and found at the Seattle station. I was at the Tukwilla station so he said he would have them send it to the Albany station on the next train down. About 6 pm this evening they called and said I could pick it up anytime. It is funny how a little card consumed so much of my thinking for the day, a lost card. It reminded me of the stories Jesus told in the gospel of Luke. A farmer had 100 sheep, but one was lost, so he went back out and searched for the one lost sheep until he found it. A woman had 10 coins and lost one so she swept the house and looked until she found it. Many people are lost, spiritually lost, but Jesus works in their lives, in the circumstances of their lives trying to draw them to himself so that they might become saved, but people don’t seem to want to be found by God, so they resist Him, ignore Him, deny Him, and stay lost.
I pray every day and ask God to lead and guide me into His perfect will for my life. I pray and ask that I would not miss those promptings of God directing me into His perfect will. I pray and ask God every day for His wisdom to fill my mind so that I can see and hear the open doors that He puts in front of me, that He puts in my path, but also that I wouldn’t imagine an open door where there isn’t one, or jump on board a ministry opportunity that isn’t meant for me. I also pray that I would have decisiveness and boldness to not hesitate or procrastinate so that I miss out on an opportunity to do something great with my life for the Lord.
Often what causes me to be slow to respond is weariness. “Oh, my, I don’t want to do that, I am so tired. When God gives a job to do He also gives the strength to do it, but not until a I have chosen. I forget that truth, “I am not adequate, but He makes me adequate”. Weariness is the great tool of the devil to make me a coward. Weariness if I let it turns me into a wimp. Usually the weariness that I am feeling is a result of thinking weary, not really being weary. It doesn’t take much negative thinking to turn me into an invalid, and then I become blind to the most obvious of opportunities that God puts before me.
I rode on a train many years ago, but I have no memory of the experience, so I am counting today as the first time riding a train. I was thinking we would sit on hard, wooden benches, and be crowded. The seats are very comfortable, much better than an airplane, and it is very roomy. There was no big line or hassle getting on, and no ex-rays or metal detectors. The best thing so far, is it is very easy to walk around with wide aisles, and the car behind mine is the “food car” with really good coffee!
The way this train ride came about was because of a church in SeaTac that I was asked to Preach at this Sunday. It isn’t safe for me to drive long distances by myself because I am so prone to fall asleep because of the medication that I take for my Parkinson’s. Patty couldn’t go with me because of responsibilities this weekend at JBC, and my son Seth was gone hunting. When I shared my need at a prayer meeting someone suggested Amtrak so I went online and checked it out, and bought a ticket, and here I am.
In life I have a principle; when I have a choice to make during the day, go with the one that is new, challenging, and uncomfortable because of all the unknowns. Learning and growing happens best and fastest in an environment of new, challenging, and uncomfortable.
Today, so far is a new experience, though not radically new, but I am congratulating myself on the fact that I am here because of a life guiding principle that I established, remembered and followed.