I am building a go-kart with my two, 10 year old grandsons. They are having a great time, and So am I. I purchased 4 tires and rims for the cart. The tires are a foot wide, 20 inches in diameter, with big nobbies on them. I got the tires on the rims after some work , but I just couldn’t get the beads on the tubeless tires to set with the rim. About 2 am this morning I couldn’t sleep so I went out to my shop to see if I could get those tires filled with air. Before I went out I googled the problem and saw there were 2 “YouTube” demos on how to do what I wanted. One suggested spraying starting fluid into the tire, and then lighting it, and the resulting explosion pushes the wall of the tires out against the rim. I must have sprayed too much starting fluid into the tire, because the resulting explosion burned the hair off of my arm, and singed my beard pretty good. But the good news is the tire blew out and sealed with the rim, and I pumped it full of air. I went back in the house and went to bed.
Passivity and true Christianity do not go together. I am a member of the Ford Flathead V-8 club. What does that mean? It means absolutely nothing. Since selling my 1949 Ford pickup that had a V-8 Flathead in it back in April I have not chatted on the forum, I haven’t purchased anything off of their web sight, I haven’t asked for any advice on rebuilding an old Flathead and I haven’t given any advice either. I am a member, but a very passive member, on paper only.
Many people who say that they are a Christian have that kind of faith. It really isn’t faith at all, it is a passive acknowledgement of a historical event, the birth and life of a man who lived long ago who called Himself Jesus. They say, “I believe in Jesus”, a statement which has no faith, or commitment in it.
A true follower of Jesus is a seeker of Him, that is we desire to know Him intimately, as we know our wife or husband. To be a true follower of Jesus is being a lifelong seeker of Him, not passively, but aggressively. Deuteronomy 4:2 “But from there you will seek the Lord your God, and you will find Him if you search for Him with all your heart and all your soul.” Aggressively seeking Jesus is to seek Him with all our heart and soul.
The benefits and blessings that God brings into the life of a person who seeks him are amazing. To those who seek Him with all their heart, mind, and strength God gives joy, strength, peace, healthy relationships, cool assignments in life, greater and greater success, and a great sense of His pleasure.
We talk a lot about loving people, and we often don’t know what that means. A phrase I like is ” honor people”. When you honor a person you give them worth and value in their own eyes. Here is my verse!
Leviticus 19:32. You shall rise up before the grayheaded and honor the aged, and you shall revere your God; I am the Lord.
Exodus 20:1. Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the Lord your God gives you.
There are many other verses that encourage us to honor all men, honor the king or the president, to honor those who teach us.
One way is to remember their birthday. I felt very honored today, as many people remembered my 70th birthday with a note or text message. A key way to honor people is to pay sincere attention to their words when they talk. If you want to dishonor a person, walk away while they are talking . Because I am always in a hurry to get more done I tend to be impatient while people are talking and taking to much time to tell a story. After a few minutes I send a message to them by breaking eye contact with them as they talk signaling that I am done listening. I don’t think this through and consciously plan on doing it as a strategy to gain more time in my day, but I certainly do it subconsciously in response to my impatience. My habit isn’t quite as bad as walking away, but close. One of my character goals for this year is to honor those in my life by showing sincere attention to their words as they talk, and to relax, be patient and enjoy listening to people’s stories. There are so many good things to do with my life, and honoring people is close to the top.
When turned 50 years old I weighed 260 lbs, I was way over weight, I was totally out of shape, and I didn’t feel good and had very little energy for ministry or anything else. Patty nagged me into getting a physical, the way she put it was, “If you die and leave me with all these kids I will never forgive you”! After the physical the doctor told me that my blood pressure was dangerously high, I was border line diabetic, and my cholesterol level was about the same as butter. He wanted to put me on a number of different medications, but I asked him to give me 3 months, and then I would come in for another physical, and start with the medications if things weren’t better. I decided that I was going to take up running to solve this problem. I hadn’t run at all since I was in college 30 years earlier so this was going to be a challenge. It was about the first of December when this infamous doctor visit took place so I decided to run in our gym at the church instead of in the rain and cold. The first night I ran, in the middle of the night so no one would see me die, one lap around the inside. One lap was 1/20th of a mile, not very far, but I was gasping for air, and sounded like I was near death, which I felt I was. The next night I ran 2 laps, and each night increased by one. One month from starting I was up to 1 1/2 miles, than another month 3 miles, and then I hit my goal of 5 miles, and I felt like a champion. In the next 15 years I ran 6 marathons, 30 half marathons, a bunch of 5 and 10k runs and I did an Olympic distance triathlon. I did go back to the doctor and everything was normal and healthy. A little over 5 years ago I started getting very bad leg cramps and feet cramps when I ran and nothing I did helped. So I stopped running and began to ride a bicycle with none of the problems I had with running. I decided about 10 months ago to try and start running again. I don’t know if my body will cooperate, but you never know unless you give it the old college try. I started a couple of weeks ago on the treadmill, and today I ran outside for the first time in over 5 years. I ran down the road 1 mile and back, and didn’t feel any rebellion from my muscles or joints. On Thanksgiving Day I am signed up to ran a half marathon, 13.1 miles, and I think I might actually finish it. We will see.
It has been such a nice September and October, with lots of sunshine and nice weather. But it looks like the rain is here now. I looked at my 25 day weather forecaster, and it was rain just about every day. I am not sad about the change in weather, that is the way it is supposed to be. We will go about 4 months and then the daffodils will be here again. The seasons of the year have been happening in our lives for a long time, in fact for our entire life, every year, that is just the way it is.
Our lives have seasons and chapters in them, but most of our life is in a straight line, not a circle. The weather goes around in a circle and is repeated every year, but our life with a few exceptions is a journey or a story with chapters, each one being different and new. We anticipate the coming events, seasons and chapters based on what we have observed in others who are older than us.
I am going to be 70 in 2 more days, and I am anticipating that this birthday is going to be the beginning of a new season of my life. I am not dreading it, but I am preparing myself for some new challenges to face and conquer.
As I think back over the years the constant factor through most of them has been my love for the Lord, and the influence that has had on my life. Through all of my life I have pressed on to become better, a better person, a better husband, a better father, a better basketball player, a better farmer, and a better pastor, trying to improve and grow in every area of my life. I have often been frustrated by failure and major setbacks, but I rewound and went at it again. That desire to succeed as a person in life is put in all of us by God. He gives us the desire, the will, and He gives us the power and strength, but there is still something I must bring to the equation or I won’t succeed. I must choose, I must press on, I must overcome, I must learn, I can, and I will.
Our conscience is a great tool for God to use to train us, guide is, and teach us. The Holy Spirit indwells us at the point of conversion. Romans 8:9. “But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.”. One of the key activities of the Holy Spirit in us is to convict us of sin. John 16:8 ” And He, (the Holy Spirit )when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment;” As a true believer in Jesus I hunger and thirst for righteousness, I want to become increasingly more righteous. That desire is because of the Holy Spirit in my life. Many because they think the feeling of guilt is bad, begin when they feel convicted to justify, blame, and compare in an attempt to feel better about themselves. What happens is that they put callouses on their own conscience, and they feel less and less guilt. 1 Timothy 4:2. “by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron,” What we ought to do is increase our sensitivity to the Holy Spirit’s working, so that we know more accurately when we aren’t pleasing the lord with our behavior. Psalms 51:17. “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.”
Romans 8:9. “But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.”
If you look at the world around you that you live in, and look for truly strong people, strong followers of Jesus you won’t find very many. Strong meaning James 1:2-4, You always rejoice when you go through a trial because you know God caused it or allowed it so that you would grow in character. Strong meaning Philippians 2:14, you never grumble or complain about anything, but you thank the Lord for everything. Strong meaning Galatians 6:2 where you look around for people struggling, and you carry their burden with them even though you have plenty of your own. Strong meaning Hebrews 12:1 where you keep on going even though you may be tired and discouraged, you never quit.
God gives strength, but it isn’t an automatic, it isn’t an inalienable right of Christians. God gives supernatural strength, but not to everyone, in fact He gives His amazing strength to very few. Why? Because there are conditions set by God that we must meet to be blessed with His strength. Here is one, 1 Timothy 1:12 says, “I thank Christ Jesus my Lord who has strengthened me because He considered me faithful.”
When God considers us faithful He gives us His strength, and the more faithful we are the more strength He gives us. Faithful people do the right thing because it is the right thing. Faithful people keep their commitments and promises. Faithful people aren’t controlled by circumstances and convenience, but they are controlled by their commitments and convictions. Faithful people don’t ask, ” Do I have time?” They ask, ” Is it the right thing to do?” Faithful people don’t ask, “Can I?” They ask, “Should I”. There really aren’t very many truly strong people, because there really isn’t very many truly faithful people.
Right now I am teaching 5 different leadership classes at JBC. The definition that I use of leadership is, “Leadership is Influence”. Influence is like control , but much less obvious. Influence is changing people and situations by the authority that God has given to us. God’s authority is not position or title, it is like the power of a magnet over iron filings. A force that is invisible with results that are very visible. All real authority comes from God, it is His authority which He gives to people who have earned it. The more of His authority that we receive from Him because of doing those things that prompt Him to give us greater levels of this God force, the more we influence and change people, we change their behavior, we change their beliefs, we change their habits, and we change their character. God uses us as change agents because of our behavior, beliefs, habits, and character. The number of really powerful leaders is relatively rare because so few have all the character traits that God requires in order for Him to give us His authority or sovereignty. A major challenge for leader wannabes is balance. A good leader is aggressive but wise, they are disciplined but not rigid, they are just but not judgmental, they lead but they also follow, they are strong and confident, and also gentle and gracious, they are decisive and at the same time cautious, and on the list goes. In order for any person to grow into a healthy leader that a God uses and works through, they must spend much time in personal reflection in order to determine the things in their life that need to be worked on. I enjoy teaching “leadership” to men and woman in our church who can become major influencers and change agents in their family, their community, their work place, and their church family. People who God works through to make disciples for Him. I also want to become more and more effective as a leader that God gives His authority to do I can change things for God’s glory.
I was planning on going fishing tomorrow in my big boat, but I have lost the key for it, the one that starts the outboard motor, the only one I have. I went fishing with it last Monday, and I am sure I took the key out and put it in my pocket, but I can’t find it. I looked every place I could think of that it could possibly be, and no key. What is really aggravating is that I probably put it somewhere so I wouldn’t lose it, and I just can’t remember doing it, or where I put it. I worked myself up onto a pretty good lather over this thing as I got more and more disgusted with myself for losing it, for not getting a spare, for my apparent senility, and on the list goes.
Well, I have decided that I can put my 9.9 horse power trolling motor on and get by. We fish right from the ramp so we will troll using my electric trolling motor and not get to far away from the ramp, and come back with the trolling motor. We probably will catch a ton of fish.
Now I am talking to myself, or more accurately lecturing myself for getting so agitated about this deal. It has been awhile since I have let myself get so upset about something so unimportant. It will probably show up in a couple of days, and then I will remember where a I put it. I will figure out how to get a new one, and then I will get 10 of them made!
There are so many good books to read, and so little time to read. One of the statements that I read years ago that I have kept as a motto of my life is “Leaders are readers, and readers are leaders”. A characteristic of good leaders is that they are always growing, and reading a key to rapid growth. I do all my reading now on my iPad using a “Kindle” app. My close up vision is getting so bad and with my iPad I can make the font big and the page bright, both which help a lot. I can highlight sections that I like and can use a special app to store highlighted sections of different books under a theme or topic that I can refer to at a later date when I need the information for a sermon or lesson that I am giving. God has chosen to communicate to us in a written form in the Bible, and He is the one who created us so He must know how we function best, and how we grow fastest. My Dad was in the Navy for over 20 years, and he retired when I was 12 years old. Up until then we moved constantly keeping up with whatever ship he was serving on, so I rarely had any friends and wasn’t involved in much outside of going to school and church so I read a lot. I remember going to the library with my mom and checking out a grocery bag full of books, and then getting a new bag full the next week.