Monthly Archives: May 2020

Are You a Jersey Bull?

Daniel 3:4-7
Then the herald loudly proclaimed: “To you the command is given, O peoples, nations and men of every language, that at the moment you hear the sound of the horn, flute, lyre, trigon, psaltery, bagpipe and all kinds of music, you are to fall down and worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king has set up. But whoever does not fall down and worship shall immediately be cast into the midst of a furnace of blazing fire.” Therefore at that time, when all the peoples heard the sound of the horn, flute, lyre, trigon, psaltery, bagpipe and all kinds of music, all the peoples, nations and men of every language fell down and worshiped the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up.

Why did King Nebuchadnezzar do this? Why did he issue this command?

Daniel 3:13 Nebuchadnezzar in rage and anger gave orders to bring Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego; then these men were brought before the king.

Daniel 3:19 Then Nebuchadnezzar was filled with wrath, and his facial expression was altered toward Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego. He answered by giving orders to heat the furnace seven times more than it was usually heated.

Why did Nebuchadnezzar get so angry when these three men refused to obey his command?

When I was growing up on our family dairy, we had a Jersey Bull, and he was very mean. If you had to go into the field that he was in you needed to keep track of where he was because he would ram into you with his head and try to stomp you to death. Do you think I ever tried to reason with him, or send him to a bull obedience school? No, he was a mean bull, that is what he was, there was no changing that.

There are some people who are like that, being in control of other people, telling them what to do, ordering them around, being in charge, that desire controls their life. And if someone resists their control the desire to conquer them and make them submit amplifies this internal obsession a hundred fold.

We can see this “Jersey Bull” in a lot of politicians today. Rules and regulations made that are nonsense, and clearly not about people’s welfare or health.

The bulk of the media are not about communicating news, they are about controlling the culture and the people in that culture.

The fact is that we all have some “Jersey Bull” in us. It shows up at work, in our marriages, as parents over our kids, and in our churches. Most of the conflicts we have with others is what we could call, ”Jersey Bull fights.”

Mark 10:42-45
Calling them to Himself, Jesus said to them, “You know that those who are recognized as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them; and their great men exercise authority over them. But it is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant; and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

Rogue River White Water Rafting vs Memorial Day

I am leaving in the morning with a group from our church who are going to raft down the wild and scenic section of the Rogue River. I bought a 15 foot raft several months ago but have not yet had it in the water so this will be our maiden voyage together. I have been watching a bunch of You Tube videos each night while riding my stationary bike, of people going over Rainey Falls and other rapids on the Rogue, many who flip, and have gotten myself into an adrenaline frenzy and we haven’t even left yet! I thoroughly enjoy an exciting adventure, and I am really looking forward to this trip. This trip isn’t near what the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon is going to be, that this same group is doing in August, but this one will be a nice warmup.

I won’t have any cell reception on the river so this will be my last blog until Friday night. I plan on having some cool pictures and exciting stories to blog about.

This is Memorial Day and I watched some videos of U.S. soldiers riding in a landing craft heading to Omaha beach in the Normandy invasion with artillery shells blowing up all around them. As I watched I wondered what they were thinking and feeling. What the probability of dying in a few minutes prompted them to picture in their head, and how they managed the fear they were feeling so that they were able to courageously charge off the boat in the teeth of continuous machine gun fire.

My Dad was in many sea battles during World War II, with torpedo planes, kamikaze planes, and bombers all around the ships he was on, trying to sink them. He had 4 different ships sunk under him during the war. I wonder how my adrenaline rush going through a class IV rapids will compare with what my Dad experienced when he felt the shudder of the aircraft carrier he was on when it had just been hit by a torpedo.

Dangerous, dumb and weak

“Dangerous, dumb and weak,” is what was written by O’Rourke, a former Texas Congressman in response to the Governor of Texas opening up the State. That is what we at Jefferson Baptist Church do not want to do. I have some definite, and strong opinions about this whole coronavirus shut down thing, and many of you have opinions just as strong as mine in the opposite direction. I will not call your opinions “dangerous, dumb, and weak, because it would be rude and very unloving. Pastor Mike, the Elders, the rest of the staff and I are working hard at maintaining unity as we navigate through the next month as we open up JBC to meeting as a church family again with inspiring worship, motivational preaching, and Biblical fellowship. If we did it my way we would never have shut down in the first place, we would have kept meeting, worshiping, and teaching like we always did, and probably made the news, but that would have been an adventure with lots of blog material! But one of the character traits that God loves and blesses is deference, which is limiting my opinions, personal rights, and beliefs in order to not offend others and maintain unity and peace. It is impossible to do that all the time for sure, but I can certainly make the effort. If I make the effort, it would be cool if you would do the same. If we move too fast for you, you have the option of staying home and watching our services on your computer. If you do that, I won’t roll my eyes, shake my head, and imply in any way that you are dangerous, dumb or weak. If we do move faster than you would if you were leading, it will be great if you would make your personal choices that you are comfortable with, but not imply in any way that we are reckless and dumb. Through these days we want to do God’s will, glorify Him, and love one another. God blesses unity much more than methods. Those of you who have views like mine are not motivated by safety and health for yourself or others, or by the conviction that you need to be submissive to the governing authorities, you are motivated by the desire for justice. You feel strongly that the Constitution is being violated and that the Biblical mandate to gather as a church is being infringed upon. Your battle cry is that of Peter in Acts 4:19 when he was ordered by the authorities to stop preaching, “But Peter and John answered and said to them, ‘Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge’ “. You are like a race horse behind one of those starting gates, bucking and chafing against the restraints, wanting to run free. You will probably feel like we are being too slow and be tempted to accuse us of being wimpy leaders. Deference will be more patience, self control, and trusting in God’s sovereignty than anything else. It is saying to yourself, “I will give this thing a little more time trusting God to work, and in the meantime I won’t grumble, complain, or call Governor Brown Dangerous, dumb, or weak”, though I personally would like to. I will choose to do this because I value unity and the relationships that I have with you all, that I don’t want damaged.

What we think about

We can choose what we think about, but very few do. Most think about what their brain chooses to think about, usually prompted by something we see or hear. It is almost like our brain has a will of it’s own, doing what it wants.

The problem with this out of control thinking is that what we think about determines our attitude, our emotions, our behavior, and our faith. Consciously choosing what we think about is called “mind set” in the Bible.

Philippians 3:19 “whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things.”

Romans 8:5-7 “For those who walk according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh. . . For the mind set on the flesh is death. . . the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God.”

The Bible tells us in Colossians 3:2 to set our minds on heaven, “Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.” I have memorized Philippians 3:20-21 well and choose to meditate on it all through the day, “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.”

Whenever I start to think anxious thoughts because of events I choose as an act of my will to quote Philippians 3:20-21 in my mind, visualizing what that day is going to be like, the day I enter heaven and get my new glorified body.

Whenever I start to think angry thoughts because of events around me I consciously choose to quote Philippians 3:20-21 in my mind, marveling over that gift that is mine.

Whenever I find myself getting frustrated because of the events happening around me, yep you got it, I choose to think about Philippians 3:20-21.

Choosing to set our mind on Bible verses that we have memorized well is amazingly powerful in controlling our emotions and attitude.

Memorize the Bible

Deuteronomy 6:5-6 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart.

Deuteronomy 11:18 “You shall therefore impress these words of mine on your heart and on your soul;

Psalms 19:7 The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul;

Psalms 119:11 Your word I have treasured in my heart,
That I may not sin against You.

Psalms 37:31 The law of his God is in his heart;
His steps do not slip.

Psalms 40:8 I delight to do Your will, O my God;
Your Law is within my heart.”

I have discovered 30 blessings of memorizing various passages and verses in the Bible, and I read them weekly to help keep me motivated to be faithful to this very hard discipline.

One of the awesome blessings is a healthy soul. Our soul is the real us, the inner person, the seat of our mind, will and emotions. Think for a little while what the difference would be in you if you had a healthy soul as opposed to a sick soul.

3 John 1:2 Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers.

A major blessing of a healthy soul is a healthy physical body . Boy, the older I get the more important that one is to me.

I have about 700 verses memorized well, and I review 100 of those verses each day so I get through all 700 every week. It takes me about 40 minutes every day to work on a couple of new verses and to review the hundred due for that day. For all the blessings that come into my life that 40 minutes a day is a huge bargain from God. That 40 minutes each day is the most powerful, efficient, and pro-active use of time that there is, nothing comes close to the benefits received from hiding God’s Word in our heart and meditating on it.

Remember, don’t ever say “I can’t memorize” or “It is so hard to memorize”.

I Can’t Memorize

I hear that all the time when asking or encouraging people to memorize key Bible verses. They can, but it will take some time and mental focus. I am of the opinion that 15 minutes of daily work at memorizing key Scripture passages will produce more blessings than anything else we can do. There is the obvious blessings that come from putting the “living Word of God” in our minds and hearts, but also there is a great improvement in our ability to concentrate and to think clearly. Our brains like a muscle get stronger with exercise and memorizing is the ultimate exercise. We will have an increasingly stronger memory which any of us getting past 70 will value tremendously. A major plus for me is the ability to communicate clearly, to put into words what I am thinking and desire that others understand. A basic fact is that memorizing for those who haven’t done much is very hard, but as we persevere in the discipline it gets easier and easier, it really does.

Here is a list of a dozen blessings that come into the life of the person who will establish the discipline and habit of memorizing the Bible.

1. Great peace and freedom from anxiety and worry.

2. Increased power in our prayers.

3. Increased sense of worth and value.

4. Our soul, our inner person becomes healthy.

5. Increased growth in holiness, our ability to resist sin increases.

6. Growing wisdom.

7. A growing sense of God’s presence and pleasure in us.

8. The joy of the Lord becomes stronger and stronger in us in spite of circumstances.

9. A growing contentment with our present state in life financially and in what we possess.

10. Our character grows, we are transformed into the image of Jesus.

11. We are able to overcome all of the temptations of the evil one.

12. We bear much fruit with our life.

Pick some key verses and get started. Every day for 15 minutes and it won’t be long before it is a habit. Remember, if you persevere it will get easier and easier and even enjoyable. I have 30 blessings written down that I read almost every week to keep me motivated to not get lazy with this discipline. I will give you some more of them in the next couple of days, in the meantime read this blog often. Make a goal and establish a strategy. And don’t ever say again that you can’t memorize’ you can and saying you can’t is terribly demotivating, don’t even say it is hard.

My Greatest Victory

In 1980 I went to a four day seminar that featured several of my favorite speakers, and one speaker that I had never heard of before. His name was Joseph and he had been a pastor in Soviet Romania. He pastored a very large church that was growing rapidly. The communist government ordered him to stop preaching and to stop meeting as a church, but he refused. The police would arrest him and torture him for hours. They would pull out his finger nails, burn him, shock him with high voltage electricity, beat him, and then he would go back and preach some more. They would arrest him again and increase the severity of the torture and when released he would go out and preach Christ on the steps of the police station. Finally the government had enough and told him they were going to kill him. When they said this he shared at the seminar, that he got very excited and thanked them because they would give him his greatest victory, being martyred for Jesus for preaching the Gospel. He went on to explain that those who are martyred for their faith get the greatest reward at the “Judgment Seat of Christ”, and are closer to Jesus for all eternity than others. His excitement over his impending death totally confused and unnerved the authorities who went back into a room to meet and talk about what to do with this person that they couldn’t control. They came out and declared that they weren’t going to give him his greatest victory, but instead they were going to kick him out of the country. I was glad for that punishment because I got to hear him speak as a result of his coming to the United States, which changed my life dramatically. I remember being absolutely mesmerized by Pastor Joseph as he spoke, thinking as I listened to him, this guy has something I can only dream about. He has absolutely zero fear of dying or of anything else, and therefore was totally free. I remember that after the first day I sat as close to the front as I could because I wanted to be close to him hoping that some of his spirit would infect me. I have been thinking about Pastor Joseph lately wondering what he would be doing in these days if he were pastoring my church.