There are 26 different character traits that I focus on as I press on toward Christ like character. Instead of looking at my behavior in general I find it very helpful to look at myself in specific areas of character. I focus on one a week and rotate through the list twice each year. This week the character trait I am focusing on is humility as apposed to pride. One of the things that I do is look up a number of verses on the character trait and read them often during the week or memorize some of them. One of those verses for this week is Proverbs 29:23 “A man’s pride will bring him low, but a humble spirit will obtain honor.” This is a very interesting verse because the motive of pride is honor. We crave it having been created in God’s image with glory and honor, but having lost it when we sinned and continue to sin. Romans 3:23 says, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” In our pursuit of honor we develop bad habits in relationships, self absorbed ways of thinking, and ways of talking designed in our head to attract some glory into our life. One aspect of humility is transparency, not projecting an image, not ignoring, blaming others for, or justifying our sins when we commit them. Our natural inclination in pursuing honor and glory is just exactly the opposite of what really works. Every single day, ending the day with a short time of self examination and confession of sin is so important.
Everybody says they do, but most really never pray with any degree of focus as if God were real and really listening. The prayers of most are mostly just grumbling about life to God. My relationship with Patty is mostly about the intimacy of our communication, good communication – good marriage, poor communication – bad marriage. It isn’t rocket science, it is mostly an issue of time, intimate communication takes time, pure and simple, and most would rather have a bad marriage then give the time needed to make it good. God blesses those who give Him quality and quantity of time. He blesses them with strength, with joy, with peace, with wisdom, and with healthy relationships if they would spend time with Him in prayer. A first step to a healthy and powerful prayer life is faithfully reading the Bible, faithfully as in daily. Proverbs 28:9 says, “He who turns away his ear from listening to the law, (the Bible) Even his prayer is an abomination.” I don’t think someone whose prayer is considered an abomination by God is going to get many answers”. Some good self evaluation questions are, “Do I have strength to manage trials well, and to carry the responsibilities of life with confidence?” “Do I have joy that is constant in spite of life?” “Do I have great peace?” A superficial, cultural, and make believe walk with God will produce no strength, joy, or peace.
It is funny what will motivate me into action. Sometimes I look at myself like a little kid. I have been faithful to ride my stationary bike every day without fail unless I was traveling and it wasn’t possible. I have also done some running on my tread mill, not a lot, but several times each week, mostly motivated by the upcoming 10K run I just did on Thanksgiving Day. But I have rarely, maybe once a month, done any serious weight lifting, even though it brings huge health benefits into my life. Last night after we got back from the movie, “Creed II” I was looking around online about the history of the “Rocky” movies and I stumbled onto a place that described the present workout schedule and routine for Sylvester Stallone who is 72 years old. I was amazed at how strong he is at his age and how rigorous a routine he goes through every day. Tonight I road my stationary bike 45 minutes and read all the time that I road, then I went out to my “Man Room” and lifted weights for 30 minutes and worked on Scripture Typer memorizing Bible verses in the 2 minute breaks between lifts. Then before I went in I punched on the heavy bag for 10 minutes. I know that now that I have started I will keep it up. There are times in my life when I feel disgusted with myself as I observe my weakness and immaturity, and then there are times when I feel good about where a I am at, and how I am doing. It isn’t a prideful feeling or attitude, but it is a strong sense that the Lord is pleased with my growth, my attitude, and fruit. I am going to bed tonight with a strong sense of growth and accomplishment for this day. I sure wish every day was like this one. It isn’t the exercise, it is because I did what I wanted to do in spite of the negative pull of my lazy body, I exercised self-control.
A group of 6 of us had a guys night out and went and saw the movie “Creed II” tonight. Adonis Creed is the son of Apollo Creed the first of Rocky Balboa’s boxing victories. Apollo in a later movie is killed while boxing a Russian boxer named Drago while Rocky was in his corner, and he feels very guilty that he didn’t stop the fight before Apollo was killed. Rocky then goes to Russia and fights Drago and wins in typical Rocky Balboa fashion. In the movie we saw tonight Drago’s son has become a fierce boxer and challenges Adonis to a boxing match, and the movie progresses from there with lots of dialog about motives, family, revenge, etc. again in a typical “Rocky” style. As predictable as the plot is and as corny as some of the lines are, it was still very enjoyable to watch.
I have been pastoring Jefferson Baptist Church for 42 years, and the last half of that time has been very enjoyable with lots of great relationships and memories of good things that God has done. Before that there was lots of conflict, disunity, gossip, hurt feelings, and people leaving. I was always the reason for the problems caused by poor decisions, bad people skills, and just plain stupidity as a leader. At one point I was super discouraged, and decided I was going to quit as the Pastor of the church. I can’t remember what motivated me, but I went down and rented all of the “Rocky” movies that were made to that point, I think 4 of them, and watched them all back to back, I watched movies all night long. After I was finished with the last one I went to bed and slept all day long, and all that next night as well. When I got up on Tuesday morning, I had what I called my “Rocky” fix. I was ready to get up off the canvas and go one more round. Thinking back on that event now as a 70 year old it seems a bit silly and childish, but as I watched tonight I got all jazzed up and decided I would come up with some more crazy goals for my life and ministry.
Sat in my new sauna for the first time tonight. It felt good to get hot and sweat a bunch. I need to make a few changes to the design, but nothing big. I am going to build another bench higher and use my present bench for the foot stool. According to my plans I left a half inch under the door for a fresh air vent and drilled some holes in the wall near the ceiling for the air to exit. That part was fine but sitting with my feet on the floor with cold air coming in under the door kept them on the chilly side, so I had a hot head and cold feet😀. Took a chair from the house and put it on the bench and sat on it and it was perfect. I have decided to make my 4 ft by 5 ft sauna my new prayer room. I can pray out loud and no one can hear me. It is to hot to bring my iPad into so I am going to put all my prayer stuff in a notebook that I will keep in there along with a pen. I am thinking that when I build the higher bench to sit on I will also make a desk in front of it to put my binder on so it will be easier to write. It will be a hot place because of the heater and because of my prayers. I used to pray in my hot tub, but I think this is going to work better because I can write and have a notebook in front of me. Even when I put water on the rocks periodically it is still considerably drier than sitting in the hot tub so paper still stays “writable”. I should have made my sauna big enough to put my recliner in 😀.