We were going through old pictures tonight and I saw this one of our family in 1958, 61 years ago. A lot of history has happened in the last 61 years. I was looking at this picture of my mom, comparing it with the one taken a few days ago, and the obvious conclusion is that Mom has used up everything she had in the last 61 years raising her family and serving the Lord. Someone said yesterday of Mom that she has a lot of grit, that word describes her life well. I think of what the Apostle Paul said at the end of his life in 2 Timothy, “I have finished the race that was set before me”, that is my Mom.
When the kids were younger I used to enjoy taking them to places that had roller coasters. In our travels with the kids we have been at theme parks all over the United States and have gone on some really big roller coasters. For some of them they were really scary and others they were an adventure and great fun.
Life is like a huge roller coaster with lots of unpredictable changes. For most people the result of all the ups an downs, the swerving and wild corners is anxiety and exhaustion, but for others it is a challenge and an adventure with God.
The key for me is having a very strong belief in the existence of God, and His very personal love for me. I believe my Heavenly Father is infinitely good, that He is infinitely wise, that He knows me intimately to the core of my being, and that He is going to take me on a very wild ride for every day of my life and then usher me into His presence.
His goal is my growth in character and intimacy with Him. Because we have a free will we can choose to respond in fear and in selfishness, and then what He chooses to happen to us to make us more mature ends up making us wimps and pushing us away from Him. It isn’t what He chooses, it is how we choose to respond. I can’t crank trust up in my heart by will power, but I can meditate on His Word and His promises which are supernaturally powerful to change my heart. Some key verses that I have memorized well and meditate on whenever the roller coaster picks up speed and starts to turn wildly.
Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.
Isaiah 26:3-4 The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace, because he trusts in You. Trust in the Lord forever, for in God the Lord, we have an everlasting Rock.
Isaiah 12:2 Behold, God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid; For the Lord God is my strength and song.
Psalms 28:7 The Lord is my strength and my shield; My heart trusts in Him, and I am helped; Therefore my heart exults, and with my song I shall thank Him.
Patty and I drove up to Trout Lake, Washington this morning to be with my Mom. It doesn’t look like from her condition that she will be with us much longer. As I sit next to her and talk she vacillates from being very aware and sharp making jokes and talking theology with me, and then a few minutes later she gets this blank look and wonders out loud who are the people in the room with her. She gets real tired and closes her eyes and goes to sleep and then in a few minutes she is awake and upset at someone for something that makes no sense. I remember my mom as being very strong in the midst of anything life brought her way so it is very difficultfor me to sit next to her and see this very frail lady struggling to maintain her sense of dignity and worth. Life is strange, but I know even when I can’t make sense of things that God is in total control and someday when I get to heaven it all will make perfect sense.
I was so proud of my kids who drove up yesterday and prayed with her and sang to her and with her as she joined in. She commented over and over today how special that was to her.
In school the goal is to learn rapidly. We went to school for 7 hours a day for 9 months for 12 years, and then for another 4 to 8 years if we wentbeyond high school. We did assignments, did homework, read books, wrote papers and took tests all in the name of education. If we could somehow put the real knowledge learned on a graph most would have a relatively steady and steep learning curve during those years of school. But what about from 20 years old and on to 90 years old or however old we make it to. If we could somehow measure actual knowledge, understanding, and wisdom gained in the last 70 years of our life what would it look like on a graph? There are some lifelong learners and genuine seekers of knowledge, understanding, and wisdom, but not a lot. What most learn is what is force fed to them by life, jobs, and problems.
Proverbs 1:5 A wise man will hear and increase in learning, and a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel,
Proverbs 2:2-4 Make your ear attentive to wisdom, Incline your heart to understanding; For if you cry for discernment, Lift your voice for understanding; If you seek her as silver And search for her as for hidden treasures; then you will discover the knowledge of God.
In our day and age being a learner is easier than ever. There are hundreds of thousands of hours of fabulous teaching on every topic under the sun available for free on the internet. My motto is when I am moving I listen, and when I am sitting I read. A smart phone and wireless ear buds can redeem hours of otherwise wasted time while driving, mowing the lawn, washing dishes, working on the car, etc
There are so many good books available now to read or listen with an audible version. YouTube has instructions on any topic you want to find information on.
The main requirement is to have a strong desire to always be learning new things, new skills, and having new experiences.
In my mental musings I often ponder and wonder about now and when I enter heaven, and the differences there will be in my body now as compared to my new body. When my body dies in this life my soul immediately goes to be with the Lord. The Apostle Paul says in
Philippians 1:21-23 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which to choose. But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better;
“To depart and be with Christ” which means if I die I go to be with Christ, and Paul says that is “very much better”, and I believe that for sure. When I die my memory goes with me, that is I will remember the events of this life, I will be able to think, to reason, to converse. My brain as part of my physical body will be dead, but my mind will not miss a beat as I move from one sphere to the other. I wonder if my mind will function much better and why it will if it does.I wonder if all the time I have spent memorizing Bible verses will make any difference once I step into my new body. I forget things all of the time now that once upon a time I did not. I am pretty sure that will change in eternity. I wonder how much my mind will become new, how powerful will my thinking be.
On thing for sure that I can say with great confidence is that I have no fear of death, I am looking forward to that day with great anticipation. If I live anther 20 years that will mean fruitful labor for me, but I am ready to go whenever Jesus is ready to take me.
I have been thinking a lot of late about my Mom. Her health is deteriorating fairly rapidly so she may not be around here on this planet much longer. I have a few memories about my Dad before 1960, but most of my memories are of my Mom in those days when my Dad was in the Navy often gone on a ship overseas. I remember conversations we would have as a result of a question I would have when we came home from church. I was like a lot of kids in that I had a 100 questionsabout everything, and Mom would patiently work at satisfying my curiosity. I think kids get a “learners heart” in their younger years from their parents. I love to learn, study, read, and listen to those who are teaching. It is an obvious fact that many young people in our culture today either aren’t interested in learning new things or they think that they already know it all. Today I love the Lord with all my heart because of my Mom, I am always learning and doing new things because of my mom, I want to do more for the Lord, much more, I am driven to do His work and please Him with my life, that is because of my Mom as well. I thank the Lord for His great gift to me of my parents, I am who I am today because of their influence in my life. I pray, Lord Jesus that You will bless my Mom with a great sense of a yourpleasure in her because of her faithfulness over the many years of her life, and fill her with peace in these last days as a good servant of Yours. I ask this with all of my heart as a fully devoted follower of You. Amen.
I was lost a couple of times in the woods while hunting when I was younger. One time I got back to camp well after midnight, and all of the guys that I was hunting with were very worried about me. The Bible talks about people being lost spiritually. Jesus said that His purpose for leaving heaven and coming to earth as a man was to seek and save the lost. To be spiritually lost is to be outside the family of God. To be in the family of God is to be with Him forever, to be taken care of by Him forever, to have a new body that doesn’t age. At the end of our life is a judgment, are we in the family of God or we are not. Those who are not will enter into what the Bible calls hell, a place of darkness and aloneness, a place of eternal regret. The sad thing about those who are lost is that when one chooses to become part of God’s family it requires nothing but believing and accepting that what Jesus did on the cross was real and that He did it for me, it is a free gift. Most who are lost spiritually don’t know that they are lost so in order for them to become part of God’s family someone needs to explain to them the gospel story. That is what those who are in God’s family are supposed to do, but most believers who are headed for heaven are to self absorbed to talk to others about their lostness. Sad but very true.
A basic law of success in life is that the simpler your life is the more you will accomplish that really matters. I know that, and I am always trying to simplify my life but for some reason it keeps getting more complicated. I tend to get bored and unmotivated with lack of variety in my life so I am always doing new things, trying new things, and filling up my life. It is a constant battle inside of me maintaining the balance of focusing on a few important things vs lots of new things that get me excited. I sometimes get to the point that I simply get overwhelmed with all the things on my todo list and the chaos and confusion that begins to well up in my mind and soul. It then is sort of like a “hoarder” having a garage sale trying to get down to the basics again. I imagine that is tough for someone who has kept everything they have ever owned to see a truck haul it all off to St Vincent’s. The rule of simplifying our life is to identify the essentials and make those first place and then to go from there. The essentials are easy to identify for me, God and the spiritual disciplines, Patty and my family, and JBC and my ministry. Now is when it gets more difficult, fishing, boats, hunting, bow, guns, cars, house, travel, and more. It is all so much fun and exciting, it is tough to think of cutting anything out. I will keep working on it.
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.