Sin is our problem in life. You sin, I sin, we all sin. The desire of God for us is that we grow and sin less and less. This picture is of me with a snake in Vietnam on a short term mission trip. It also is a picture of me battling the sin in my life so that it doesn’t overcome me, but that I conquer it. The sins I now work at overcoming are way different than they used to be, not as bad by the world’s standards, but I still want to get them out of my life. Here is a prayer that I wrote that I read most evenings during my prayer time.
I love You. I want to please You. I commit so many sins. Please forgive me and cleanse me. I desire to conquer them and to never do them again. Please help me for apart from You I can do nothing. Convict me Holy Spirit before, during, and after I sin so that I become increasingly aware of my sin, especially before and give me the strength to make my body obey You and not my flesh or the devil. I pray that in my striving against sin that I would not grow weary of the battle, that I would not allow the world to convince me that they aren’t that bad and to accept them in my life as OK. I especially pray and ask that in my journey as an overcomer that I would be an example to those around me and that I would be wise enough to put into words the keys and principles that were part of my growth in righteousness so that I could effectively teach others. Thank You for my salvation, and the will to be righteous that You have put into my heart. I so much look forward to the day I step into glory, get my new body that will be like Yours. Then and only then will the battle be over. I know when that day comes that I will realize without a doubt that all the striving and battling that I did in this life will have been worth it all.
7 of us guys from jbc drove up together and watched the Seattle Mariners baseball team play the Texas Rangers today.we had a great time together in the van on the drive up and back and during the game. We have done this once each year for the last 15 years. It is one of the yearly traditions that I look forward to every year. Jesus in John 15 told His disciples that He considered them to be His friends. The book of Proverbs says that some people have friends that are closer than brothers. I have a book entitled, “The Lonely Male”, which says that most men in the USA don’t have any really close friends. They have lots of acquaintances, but few friends. I have been blessed by God with many very good friends that I would do most anything for, and who’s company and fellowship I truly enjoy. A friend is someone who you enjoy doing things with socially, but real friendship goes way beyond that. A friend is someone who cares for you, that is they notice when you have problems or needs and they are quick to do what they can to help. They also are quick to encourage when we need some motivation to keep on keeping on when life gets tough. I have many very good friends, why? Some would suggest because I am a pastor, but I know many Pastors who don’t have very many friends. I think the reason is that because I pray for every person in jbc every week. I have pictures of almost every person and I enter into my prayer journal needs, problems, and blessings. There is something very powerful and supernatural about prayer in that it is impossible to pray for people regularly and not grow close to them and love them. The love and closeness I feel because of my praying for them prompts me to choose to do things with them socially and to help and encourage when I see the need. The basic law of God is “be a friend to others, and they will be a friend to you”. God created us like Himself and God exists in community in the Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We were created by God for community, for relationship, for friendships. Those who have good friends are happier, healthier, grow faster spiritually and in character, and are way more successful than those who have few friends.
When people work together in unity it is always a positive and fruitful experience even with complete strangers. I belong to an organization called “Warm Showers”. They are a group of bicycle enthusiasts who agree to host at least 2 groups of bicyclists a year if contacted. In agreeing to do this you get an App that has every Warm Shower member in the USA listed and there are over 70,000 host homes. 4 of us are leaving June 10th on a 2,000 mile bicycle trip to Glacier National Park and back again. As I plan the trip I first look for camp sights and then I look for Warm Shower member homes, and I usually find several. Several years ago when we did a trip from San Diego to St Augustine, Florida we stopped at a Warm Shower members place in Louisiana and he owned a Cajun Food Restaurant. He not only provided a place to sleep but he let us order anything off of the menu, and having never eaten any before I order 10 lbs of Crawfish. I ate them all. I don’t know who originally came up with idea behind Warm Showers but it is a good one.,
Our youngest daughter, Sally, her husband Aaron, and there 3 kids visited us from Oahu these last couple of days. This is a picture of their oldest, Duke (nice name) surfing near where they live. It is always such a major blessing when our kids visit. For so many years our 8 children were the center of our lives, everything we did revolved around them. The years when we had them all home, in school, playing sports, fishing, camping, family work days, and going to church, were the best and most enjoyable years of my life. At 70 years of age I often reflect on those years and replay them over and over in my mind. I sometimes wish that I could turn the clock back and live them again, but life goes on in chapters and I like the chapter we are in now. We parented on purpose, that is we had very clear goals for character and behavior set for our kids, and we measured and evaluated how we were doing by how they were doing. It is so rewarding to see them doing well in life now, walking with the Lord, their marriages doing good, and their kids being trained pro-actively to love the Lord and live for Him.
Most parents attempt to motivate their kids to act and behave right. I am around lots of parents with their kids in airports, stores, sporting events, school events, and church events. Most of the attempts at controlling their kids behavior is by scolding, threatening, yelling, and yelling louder, none of which does any good. When I get asked for advice from parents I counsel them to use reward and consequence that is clearly defined ahead of time, and consistently practiced. Reward for right behavior and consequence for wrong behavior, and make both the reward and consequence significant enough to truly motivate. Probably the easiest and most effective reward is money, and the consequence would be loss of money. Creative parents can think up all kinds of rewards and loss of rewards that would motivate their kids and end the anger, threatening, and yelling that takes place in so many families. The reason that I think this is a good thing for wise parents to do is because this is what God does to motivate us, He rewards good behavior and He has consequences for wrong behavior. In reading through the Bible the are hundreds of verses where God states clearly what the rewards and consequences are. One such verse is 1 Peter 3:10 “The one who desires life, to love and see good days, must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit.” The reason most Christians are not motivated by these statements in the Bible is because (1) they really do not believe God pays enough attention to them to know what they are doing, (2) they have a distorted, inaccurate view of God’s mercy and love so they think God will overlook and forgive anything they do, and (3) because they can’t see God they simply forget about Him, and forget that He is in charge. A simple definition of the “fear of the Lord” is “God sees everything we do, hears everything we speak, know everything we think, rewards good behavior and disciplines wrong behavior.” Galatians 6:7 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.
One of the major problems for most followers of Jesus in the United States is that they love the world and the stuff that is in it.
1 John 2:15 Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
That is a very serious verse, but very few people take it seriously. The greatest and most important command in the Bible is to love the Lord with all of our heart. The greatest barrier to keeping that command is all the stuff we own and all the stuff we want to own. So how do we know if we are loving the world? An easy test is how you act when something you own that is a favorite is suddenly lost, broke, or stolen. If you love it there will be pain when it is suddenly gone. Last week when my really, really nice electric trolling motor that had a gps and auto pilot on it that cost $449.99 fell off my boat to the bottom of Detroit Reservoir the first words out of my mouth were “oh crap”. Then I thought, “Lord, I love You, not that motor”, and then I said out loud, “I didn’t like that motor anyway”. Stuff is nice, but you have to hold it lightly. I sold my 1949 Ford pickup that I had spent 8 years restoring from a rust bucket. It was a very nice pickup with a Flathead V8 that ran like a top. I sold it because I was consumed with fixing it and always reading about ways to make it better. I was spending more time reading the classic pickup catalogs, forums, and books then I did reading my Bible. It is so easy to drift away from the Lord, and it is so dangerous, and the consequences if not realized and reversed are eternal. The cool stuff in the world is not worth not hearing from Jesus when I enter His presence, “well done good and faithful servant”.
Whenever I have traveled across multiple time zones and stay where I’ve traveled for longer than a week, I have a very difficult time sleeping when I get back home . . . for at least another week. My physical body has gotten used to sleeping at a regular time and when I change that routine it takes a while to adjust to the change. The very same thing is true of my mental and spiritual disciplines. If I never develop a regular routine in doing them they will remain a difficult discipline that I often forget to do. But, if I read my Bible at basically the same time and place every day it doesn’t take very long before it becomes a routine and it will be difficult for me not to remember to do it. The same principle is true of prayer, reading good books, writing my blog, and reading my goals. It takes a little planning and discipline to establish a routine, but once established it makes life so much more successful. Another major benefit of establishing a routine is that it saves a ton of emotional energy. We each have a gas tank of emotional energy that pretty much gets used up each day. Our emotional energy is what fuels our will power and our self-control. If we run out of energy before the day is over we will have a tough time making right choices and not getting sucked into wrong behavior as we finish the day. One of the major users of our emotional energy is decision making, so the trick is to make a decision once and then stay with it; don’t re-make it over and over again. If we never establish a time when we read our Bible, (but we know we need to read it), we will be trying all day to fit it in, sometimes getting it done and other times not. If there are very many things like that in your life you have become a very inefficient user of your emotional energy resource. If you get most of the things that you do established repeatedly on a regular routine, you will have so much more energy left at the end of the day that you will regularly finish strong. Most of the time if someone blows their diet they will do it in the evening, or a man struggling to control looking at porn will slip in the evening as well. Take the time to assign each of your spiritual disciplines to a daily time and place, and then stick with it. In a month there will be a new self-control level reached that really helps in life as you press on towards maturity as a Christian.
Here is my every morning, first thing I do prayer of commitment.
Today I present myself to You as Lord of my life. You are the King, master, Lord, and boss of my life. Today I will obey You and do Your will for my life, no matter how hard or difficult it might be. You purchased me with Your blood, I am not my own, I am Yours.
Today I will read, memorize, and meditate on Your Word. I will abide in You and Your Word will abide in me.
Today I will be devoted to prayer. I will spend time alone with You, I will pray with Patty, and I will pray with my church family. I will pray for my family, I willpray for a list of lost people, and I will pray for every person in JBC every week.
Today I will love Patty as You, Lord Jesus love the church.
Today I will be the kind of father and grandfather to my children and grandchildren, that You are to me.
Today I will do my part to build Your church at JBC, and around the world.
Today I will love any person You sovereignly bring into my life, no matter how difficult they may be to love.
Today I will take every thought captive to obedience to Christ, by choosing to set my mind on appropriate memorized scripture passages every time my mind begins to lead me astray.
Today I will speak only words that give grace to the hearer, and never any unwholesome words.
Today I will live my life as if it is the last day I have before I stand before You Jesus at the Judgment Seat and am rewarded for what I have done for You in this body.
I can’t keep these commitments in my own strength, please fill me with Your Holy Spirit, and grant me Your strength to keep these commitments and to serve You well.
Please give me Your wisdom so that I will know what to say and do in any situation You sovereignly put me in today.
Tonight the Portland Trailblazers lost the 4th game to the Golden State Warriors so they are out of the playoffs and Golden State heads to the NBA finals for a 5th time in a row. Now that Portland is out I will be a Warrior fan for the finals. I am a Blazer Fan, but I am a bit fickle in my support, I like them when they win, but when they lose I start getting more interested in other teams. Some sport fans are die hards, they stick with their team win or lose. I am not too concerned about my character being a fickle Blazer fan, but I am not an unfaithful husband. One of my commitments that I make every time I say “I love you” to Patty is “You are the only woman in my life, mentally, emotionally, and physically” for as long as I live. I am also totally and completely committed to my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. The unfaithfulness won’t be with another god, there are no other gods, if I love Jesus less it will be because I am loving the world and the stuff in it and placing my security in my money and possessions instead of God. I am also committed to my church family. They have good days and bad, but JBC is my church, my spiritual family. I start becoming less supportive and loyal to the Blazers when they lose, but I will never be unfaithful, not even a little bit to my church, I have been here 43 years and I will be here until I die.
Everybody knows about getting your feelings hurt, getting offended by what someone says or does, and feeling slighted, unappreciated and unloved. Some are so prone to being hurt or offended that most of their relationships are strained if not broken because people can’t relax around them for fear of saying or doing something that sets them off. There are all kinds of reasons why a person gets to be an adult and their self-worth is so fragile that they are constantly getting their feelings hurt by almost everyone in their life, but regardless of the reason they ought to diligently pursue getting even a little bit tougher minded.
I have a personal goal to totally conquer the “hurt feeling” syndrome in my life. I realize that I can’t stop the initial feeling or emotion of being hurt by someone’s words, but I can choose what I think about after the initial blow to my ego so that the feeling of being unloved or unappreciated quickly goes away, and I don’t react in facial expression or in words. Taking my thoughts captive is a simple matter of having appropriate Bible verses memorized that I can set my mind on and meditate on when I recognize that my thinking is being led in the wrong direction by my emotions.
There are two big challenges that most people won’t make the effort to conquer to become tough minded. The first is to memorize a few Bible verses well enough that they can quickly start running it through their mind when their mind starts thinking wrong thoughts. The second is to learn how to listen to their thoughts and choose to not let wrong thinking continue and choose to think about the appropriate Bible verses they have memorized.
Here is my strategy, you are welcome to use it as your own.
(1) Every morning in my prayer of commitment (if you are interested in seeing my full every morning prayer of commitment email me and I will send it to you firstname.lastname@example.org) I will pray this commitment, “today if I get my feelings hurt by someone’s words or actions, I will choose to set my mind on
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 “Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”
(2) I will memorize 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 super perfect so that I can switch what I am thinking about quickly.
(3) If I blow it and say something in retaliation, or defensive, I will journal about my bad behavior and determine where I lost control of my thinking and repent and recommit to doing it right next time.
This strategy is working very well in my life, it has been months since I have had even a small, insignificant issue with getting my feelings hurt and I