Depression, despair, discouragement, and diarrhea are part of my life periodically. You may be thinking, “why is diarrhea in the list?”, I needed another “D” word. OK you are right, it doesn’t fit, so depression, despair, and discouragement are periodically part of my life. They used to be regular visitors and they would often stay for a long time, but now they rarely show their faces and when they do they are run out of town quickly. WHY??
I have learned how to talk to myself so that the time I am down in the dumps is short. I preached, or taught in 10 different services or classes this last week, which is a lot and which consumes a lot of emotional energy from me usually resulting in what I call a “blue funk”. Knowing that this weeks ministry activities would likely end this way I talked myself out of it before it even got started.
Psalms 42:3 My tears have been my food day and night,
So the writer of this Psalm is in despair, sad, and crying about life, but then he does something very interesting, he lectures himself
Psalms 42:5 Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him For the help of His presence.
And again he goes into depression and says,
Psalms 42:6 O my God, my soul is in despair within me;
And again he talks himself out of his feeling of despair,
Psalms 42:11 Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him, The help of my countenance and my God.
Over the last 10 years I have learned how to talk to myself so that I become more thankful and grateful to God for all of His blessings to me. It works very well if you remember to start controlling your self-talk immediately after a bad circumstance or event.
I watched Monday night football tonight at the church in the “Men’s Ministry Room” on a 65 inch screen with some other guys. We ate fried chicken, chips, and drank soda pop as we watched. It was probably the most exciting, back and forth, back and forth, into overtime, down to the wire game I have ever watched. It ended well if you are a Seahawk fan and San Fransisco’s perfect season ended.
I enjoy evenings like tonight because of the good game, but mostly because of the joy of hanging out with friends.
God is a trinity, the Father, the Son, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, they are community, and those of us who are followers of Jesus will be joining that community, that family some day very soon. We were created by God for relationships. On our own, without help from others, without encouragement, without fellowship from others, and without accountability we cannot have lasting joy, success in life, growth in our character, or any level of accomplishment.
The principles that God gives us in the Bible on how to have healthy relationships are probably the most important principles in the Bible, beginning with how to have a healthy relationship with Him. It isn’t an easy task, having a healthy relationship with others because we all are so selfish, prideful and self-absorbed. The pursuit of unity and love with others takes humility, persistence, and wisdom. The pursuit of unity with others is the number one cause for character growth in ourselves whichis God’s primary goal for each of us.
And that is why I will keep watching Monday night football.
My main purpose and goal in my life is to become like Jesus in character, to press on to maturity, to become as much like Him as is possible.
Romans 8:29 For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren;
“Conformed to the image of his Son” is the purpose of life established by God. He causes all things to work together in such a way that all things that happen will be a cause or stimulus for greater growth in me
A major anchor in the speed of my growth in character are the sins that I commit. It isn’t the sins themselves that are the problem but what I do in response to my own sins. If I justify as not so bad, blame others for my committing them, or simply ignore them, the consequences for those sins stay in me. The consequences are a loss of power from the Holy Spirit, the loss of God hearing and answering my prayers, a hardening of my conscience so I become more prone to sin, and many more consequences. God’s solution to my sin problem is to confess my sins as sin with no excuses.
1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Psalms 51:1-3 Be gracious to me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness; According to the greatness of Your compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, And my sin is ever before me.
If I examine my life and confess all known sin to God He forgives me of those sins, washes me, and removes the consequences from my life. Another great blessing that comes into my life from God when I humbly confess all of my sins is that He gives me a greater grace to overcome the power of those sins, and I grow in holiness.
Romans 5:20 but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more,
One of my “daily disciplines” is to reflect about the day and to replay events and situations in my mind and with humility, transparency, and honesty to look diligently for sins that I have committed, even little ones, and to confess those sins to God as sin.
I slept in this morning until 9:00 am and then I propped myself up in bed and read until noon. It has been a long time since I have done anything like that. The reason was with Pastor Mike gone to Africa I was going to be preaching and teaching 7 times this weekend so I wanted to start out plenty rested because of all the energy I use up preaching. I had gone fishing Friday so my emotional gas tank was full, and I have been reading my Bible 12 chapters every day and spending time with God in prayer everyday so my “Will Power” gas tank was full as well. I teach young preachers that part of the responsibility of preaching the Word of God is not only to teach people how to live the principles in the Bible, but to give them the energy to live them, part of that energy comes from us. If a Preacher doesn’t have the energy to give, the sermon is going to be a dud. I have preached plenty of those in the past and don’t want to do any more. It is an amazing privilege to preach and teach the Bible, the inspired, living, and inerrant Word of God. It is also a very scary responsibility, one that I want to do very well at every time I get the opportunity. So, with all that said I need to go to bed so I am not dragging in the morning while preaching.
I went fishing at Diamond Lake today with my son-in-law Mike and a friend. I don’t think I have ever fished at Diamond Lake in November before, because it is usually to cold. But today it was 60 degrees, the sun was shining brightly, and the fish were biting. We could see early that we were going to be catching a lot of fish so we released all but the very biggest, and still all got our limit of 5 fish apiece. I don’t think any made it to 20 inches but a number were close, and very fat. Very few things are as enjoyable to me as a day of fishing with friends, especially when it is warm and the fish are biting. I was supposed to go salmon fishing at the coast with another friend but it got cancelled for lack of rain and fish, so this trip was arranged about 9:00 pm last night, nice substitute!
We all know that life is hard, full of trials, heartache, and pain. It is supposed to be, God made it that way. He created life as a time when we grow in character to be as much like Jesus as is possible so that when we get to heaven He will enjoy us and we will enjoy Him because we are alike. Life is hard, but heaven is wonderful, so focus on eternity, and live life with purpose.
But strong people who are running the race set before them with endurance and grit need to get revived regularly and systematically. God created everything in a week and then established that there be a regular day of rest every week, systematically, routinely. As people we have several different gas tanks that need filled up routinely. The physical gas tank is the easiest to understand and fill up, take a nap. The emotional gas tank is a little bit trickier to understand and fill up, and when we don’t we don’t have much passion, are unmotivated, and experience depression and burnout. The third gas tank, the “will power” gas tank is very important to our running with endurance, it is what keeps us from quitting when life gets tough.
So, physical renewal happens when we take a nap, exercise, and eat right. Our emotional gas tank is filled up by fishing, or working in the garden, or quilting, or dinner with friends. So, what about our “Will Power” gas tank? Isaiah 40:31 says, “Those who wait upon the Lord shall be renewed in their strength, they will mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not get tired, and they shall walk and not become weary”. Do you think this verse is talking about physical energy, emotional, or “will power”? It is the strength of our soul, our inner person, our will. I am confident that “waiting on the Lord” is reading the Bible, praying, worshiping, confessing sin, gathering with other believers, the basic spiritual disciplines that so many neglect because of business.
Philippians 2:13 says, “for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.”
Who does God work in to give “will”? those who “wait on the Lord”. I sleep every night, you could say it is a routine. I eat, usually three times a day, a very entrenched routine that I seldom miss. I go fishing a couple times a month, I work on my boats, I work on my cars, I ride my bicycle, and I keep track of the amount of time and frequency that I play so I am always on fire and motivated to save the world! But the strength of my soul, my inner will to never give up, to endure, how do I fill that tank up? Wait on the Lord! Every day, routinely, systematically, keep track, it is very important.
One of the commands in the Bible that I work very hard at keeping is “so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all me”. That is getting harder to follow in light of the political climate in our country. People’s views and opinions seem to have grown stronger and many have become very emotional in the support and defense of their views. And I admit my own views and opinions have become much stronger and important to me than they haveever been. My personal view is that abortion is murder. It is as much murder as it would be if I shot someone in the head with a high powered pistol who was standing in line in front of me at WalMart who was taking to long to check out. I believe the Bible is very clear that life begins at the point of conception in God’s view. Hundreds of thousands of pre-born people have been murdered in our country for a variety of reasons, but mostly for convenience. I also believe that the devil and his demons are very much involved in the hysteria that is connected with most discussions on this topic. The devil’s agenda is is to kill and destroy people created in the image and likeness of God, and he especially likes to destroy children. God is God, He is in charge, He is the judge, and our country is under the judgment of God for the murder of so many young lives whose potential was never experienced. I have prayed and prayed over the years that somehow a God would do something to overthrow “Roe vs Wade”. I don’t believe that any other topic or agenda is as important as this one .
We started our Wednesday night service tonight at 7:00 pm. I will be teaching through the book of Philippians and the theme will be “being joyful in times of trial”. We started tonight by going through Acts 16 that describes the start of the church in Philipi by Paul on his 2nd missionary journey. He and Silas were arrested by the Romans and beaten with rods, thrown into prison, and put in a torture device. The normal practice when a criminal was beaten with rods is that all the skin would be gone off of their back, muscles would be torn and often bones exposed. At midnight while they were in the torture device after being beatenwith rods they began to sing hymns. There was an earthquake and all the prisoners chains fell off and the prison doors flew open, and Paul led the jailer and all his friends and family to faith in Jesus. The power of singing and worshiping God after being beaten an inch from death. A church that begins like that is started on a good foundation of rejoicing in spite of trials. Teaching the Bible is my favorite thing to do, it is the most rewarding thing I do, it pushes my joy button like nothing else. If you don’t have anything else to do come on down and learn from the book ofPhilippians. Even if have something else to do, skip it and come on down and learn the power of a rejoicing life. So many people skip going to church because they work all week and want to do something on the weekend or have to work on the weekends. Gathering together with other believers is Gods will, He commands it in Hebrews 10:24, so it ought not to be an option for us. So Wednesday night at 7:00 to 8:00 pm is a solution, come on down and worship and learn and grow.