We all have a natural tendency toward certain sinful behavior. The times that we are presently living in increases dramatically those natural tendencies. One of the strongest is to be mentally critical and judgmental of the people that are around us, and then to move up to the next level of sin and verbally share our critical thoughts with others, slandering and gossiping about them. Our culture has become one of constant verbal wars between everybody. We all know it is wrong, but with hardly a twinge of guilt we make no effort to corral the steady stream of critical thinking that tales place in our minds. With unchecked thinking, our mouth will soon follow the lead of our mind. The verbal sharing of negative and demeaning information to another person about a third person has tons of negative consequences in our own lives. A major one is that the more we attack another person the more our own sense of worth and value goes down, which is interesting because our motive in reducing another person’s worth is to increase our own, but just the opposite actually happens. Another very serious consequence is that our ability to influence those around us towards a saving faith in Christ is reduced to the point of zero. Our greatest honor and privilege in life to be ambassadors for the Jesus, the infinite King of the universe, and that honor is destroyed by our own mouth. Negative and critical thinking and then slander and gossip is like complaining, it is so easy to do and it becomes a habit that is very hard to break, but we need to overcome this very bad habit.
This morning JBC had a service online, complete with worship, preaching, prayer requests, and an offering. I also watching my daughters church service up in Fairbanks, Alaska, and my son Sam’s church in Stayton. This evening we did a zoom family event and we played bingo. It was cool with the screen of my iPad divided up in boxes and one of the families in each box. We were able to talk and have a good time as we interacted.Today was a good day, and ai felt really blessed even though I didn’t get a single bingo.
Some people deal with pressure, problems, and stress by drinking alcohol, some take drugs of a variety of sorts, some people sleep excessively, some play computer games for hours, or watch television, but my medication of choice is food. Food calms me down and gives me a nice warm fuzzy feeling inside, it gives me a sense of life being so gooooood.The worst time is when I am home a lot. I get bored and I head for the frig to see if anything else showed up from the last time I looked 30 minutes ago. I am still being good on not eating any sugar or wheat flour so that helps that I am not eating a half gallon of ice cream a day with chocolate syrup and whip cream all over it. My main vice now is I am eating a big bowl of pop corn most evenings with a half cube of melted butter on it. Right when the popcorn starts to pop I push start on the microwave for 30 seconds and the butter is melted when the popcorn is done.
Patty and I have started fasting for 24 hours 2 days a week with at least one day in between fast days. I have been doing pretty good on being faithful to not eating on our fast days. We go from 8:00 pm until 8:00 pm for our 24 hour stretch, so at 7:00 pm an hour before we start our fast I have a bowl of popcorn and then the next night I have it at 8:00 pm right after we finish our 24 hour fast. Cool, huh!
Coping mechanisms are the strategies people often use in the face of stress and/or trauma to help manage painful or difficult emotions. Coping mechanisms can help people adjust to stressful events while helping them maintain their emotional well-being. I read an article written to help people cope with the virus situation we are in now and they had 40 suggestions, many of them were ones that I do. I rotate activities a lot now often changing every 30 minutes or whenever I start having too many negative thoughts or feeling agitated or depressed. I will work on a project outside and then come in and read for a while, then go back outside and then come in again and memorize Bible verses, then back outside, and then come in and pray for a bit and then I hop on my stationary bike and ride for 30 minutes. With every trip in the house, I check the frig but now I am doing better, gaining some self -control, I am eating healthy low-calorie stuff. There isn’t much that makes me feel like a loser as much as not being able to control my weight.
I am an extreme introvert by nature, but after so many days of ”no gathering” rules I am craving a party. We were created social beings by God. The trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is the ultimate in gathering, in community, and we are created in the image of God, the triune God. Someone asked, ”what are you learning during these times”, and my answer is ”I like people way more than I thought I did”!
The Biblical definition that I use for pride is, ”I can do it by myself, I don’t need you”! One of the basic principles taught by the Apostle Paul in all of his Epistles in the New Testament is that all that God gives us, He gives us through others, through people. The book of James in the New Testament says, ”If you lack wisdom ask God and He will give you wisdom”. How does He do that, just pour it in like filling a salt shaker? No, He gives us wisdom through other people. He gives us courage through others, He gives us joy, He gives us peace, He communicates His will, He encourages, and on the list goes of all the things that God gives us through other people. Humble people know how God works, and seek all that they need from others, but prideful people don’t want to be dependent on others.
As I have thought about this a lot this past week, one truth that really became very clear to me is that humility as an attitude is recognizing that I can only succeed with the help of others, but humility as an action is being kind, gracious, patient, honoring, forgiving, sensitive, gentle, considerate, attentive, tenderhearted, and meek.
Receiving from others what I need to grow and succeed, and giving to others so that they might do the same requires a unity between people like what exists in the Trinity. I am responsible to pursue that unity in all my relationships and hopefully others in my life will pursue unity as well.
If you have followed my teaching for very many years you know that one of my favorite slogans is, ”You don’t have to act the way you feel”. Feelings or emotions are impossible for us to control. Different emotions pop up in us all day long, usually prompted by an event that happens in our life. So if we acted the way we feel we would pretty much be controlled by the events in our life, most of which we have little control over. That being said, we can control our emotions, it just takes a bit of time. If we don’t let emotions control our behavior we can control our emotions by controlling our thinking and then reinforce that by responsible acting. ”If we don’t act the way we feel, we will soon feel the way we are acting”.
In this last week, I have often been overcome by strong emotions and feelings of frustration, depression, despair, failure, futility, anger, resentment, self-pity, apathy and weariness. Each of them are like a vulture circling over my head and they take turns roosting on my head and pooping on it. I just get one vulture chased off and another one lands and poops. So far I have managed to exercise self-control and not act the way I have been feeling, and I am hoping that this season of negative emotions will end soon as I continue to act right. Besides this Coronavirus thing that has totally messed with my routine my Parkinson’s which occasionally gets to fussing has been acting up of late. The muscle pain and muscle fatigue just gets to wearing me out and then I can’t sleep much because the minute I close my eyes all my muscles go into a spasm routine, and the only thing that helps is getting up and riding my stationary bike for awhile.
I share all of that not to elicit sympathy, but to let those of you who are going through emotional ups and downs as well that we are in this together. Life is hard, but it is supposed to be hard, and soon we will be in heaven and hard will be over forever.
If you pray for me, don’t pray that I would feel better, or that things would get better, but pray that I would have strength to act and do right in spite of life, that God would fill me with His joy and peace, and that all of my circumstances will turn out for the furtherance of the gospel.
So what is a person supposed to do with all this extra time?I have plenty of home projects and personal projects and goals to keep me busy for 6 months, but I really want to do something that will matter for all eternity, to bear some real fruit for God. I have made praying for people my main ministry right now. I have always prayed a lot but I am doubling my normal amount. I have an App on my Ipad called “Prayer Mate” that I like a lot. I can put pictures with each name and I have unlimited capacity for writing under each persons name. What do I pray about for each of you? Here is what I call “the dozen guaranteed to be answered prayers” that I pray for you all.
1. I pray that God will use the events and circumstances in your life to mold you like clay into the image of Christ, that you would grow in character until you are totally mature, and when you step into heaven you will be just like Him in character. I never pray that God will change, fix, or make better the circumstances in any person’s life because I don’t know what His will is and what He wants to do to cause you to grow.
2. I pray that God will convict you to the core of your being of anything that is sin and which is not pleasing to Him, that He will give you the desire to be holy and pure, and the supernatural strength to conquer any sin in your life.
3. I pray that God will put in you a deep longing to know Him more intimately, and the desire to seek Him diligently. That Psalms 42:1 would be the cry of your heart, “as the deer thirsts for the water brooks, so my soul thirst after You, Oh God”!
4. I pray that God would motivate you to seek wisdom with more desire than silver and gold, and to the degree that you seek it, that He would give it to you, so you would know what to do and say in any and every situation that you might be in.
5. I pray that God would fill you with the desire to influence people to become followers of Jesus, that He would open many doors for you, provide divine appointments, and that you would see the opportunities and not miss them or ignore them.
6. I pray that God will deliver you and protect you from the evil one, that He will put a hedge of protection around you.
7. I pray that God will fill you with His joy and peace in spite of your circumstances, and that you would not be discontent, grumble, or complain about any of the events or situations in your life, but that you would rejoice always.
8. I pray that God will fill you with His strength so that you will run with endurance the race that He has set before you, and that you would not quit, give up, back slide, or cool off. That you would be renewed in your strength to bear up under and manage well the pressures and responsibilities of life that God has given to you.
9. I pray that God will fill you with the knowledge of what His perfect will is for your life, and that all the choices that you make will be inside that perfect will.
10. I pray that God causes your love for Him and for every person in your life to abound more and more every day of your life.
11. I pray that you abide in Jesus, that His Word abides in you, and that you bear much fruit for Him, that your life is not unproductive and useless for Him as His servant.
12. I pray that God would work in your heart so as to remove every shred of bitterness and unforgiveness toward others, and that He would make you “one” with all those in your areas of relationship.
Creativity is a gift that we have from God having been created in His image. One of the ways that our creative juices can really get going is in the midst of problems as we figure them out and fix things. So my contact with people has dropped significantly as we try to keep from getting infected or infecting others. But I want to take advantage of the times we are in to attract people to faith in Jesus Christ. Good old ”Social Media” comes to the rescue. Let me share a few ways that I have attempted to spread the good news of the gospel.
1. Jefferson Baptist Church has done a ”Virtual Worship Service” the last two weeks. I ”shared” the sermon with all of my Facebook Friends which is accessible on Youtube. This last weeks, ”Hebrews 2” was a very good evangelistic sermon, even if I did preach it. I then prayed fervently that God would prompt all to watch it, and that they would understand it clearly.
2. I am spending one hour on Facebook most days reading entries and looking for someone I can connect with that is afraid of the future and offering to pray for them and looking for opportunities, to share information.
3. I watch a lot of sermon on line as I work at improving my own preaching and teaching skill and when I watch one that I is particularly good I ”Share”it with my friends.
I am cooking up some more ideas many of them I think I will continue to use even after normal life resumes one of these days.