Monthly Archives: September 2020

What am I going to do?

I usually start on October 1st writing my goals, but I have a little extra time so I am going to start today. So I always start by reading over last years goals, and doing an evaluation of how I did. I ask questions of myself concerning my goals, and write the answers. Here are a few of the questions that I ask as I determine the answer to the big question, “What Am I going to do next year? (1) Can I do better on this goal if I keep it for another year? (2) Was the accomplishment of this goal worth it in terms of energy, time, and money that it cost? (3) Did I enjoy the pursuit and accomplishment of this goal? (4) Did this goal result in a significant accomplishment in terms helping others? (5) How much desire and passion do I have left for this goal? (6) Is pursuing this goal the responsible thing to do? (7) Is this goal one that I would encourage everyone I know to pursue? (8) I can only do so much so should I replace this goal with one that is more noble? (9) Will Patty be excited about me pursuing this goal? (10) Am I reasonably certain that this goal is God’s will for me?

Setting personal goals, evaluating them, reading them, writing strategies to accomplish them all takes time, but it is the most important time that we can spend if we want to grow as a person in character, bear more and more fruit, and improve in our relationships with others. The most natural thing we do is to get into a holding pattern and keep doing what we have always done because it is comfortable.

Honest self-evaluation of who we are, what we have done, and where we are going is so important, and then acting on that evaluation with passion and desire. Goal setting is the key to “pressing on to maturity”.

Knowing God’s Will

God has a plan for our life and it is our responsibility to discover what it is. It isn’t that God wants to make it hard to discover, but He does want us committed to finding it and living it. There are a number of principles that I use, but a key one is found in Psalms 37:3-5

Trust in the Lord and do good;
Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.
Delight yourself in the Lord;
And He will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the Lord,
Trust also in Him, and He will do it.

I state this by saying, “get close to God and do what you want”.

God puts His will in us in the form of desires. It is obviously necessary to weed out the fleshly, worldly, and demonic desires, but if you are seeking God, drawing near to Him by being faithful to the basic disciplines of the Christian life, that will be relatively easy.

My goal year goes from October 27th to October 26th of the following year, because October 27th is my birthday, so I start writing my goals on October 1st, and my desire is to write goals that I feel confident are God’s will for my life.

As I review last years goals I recognize that I am not very motivated to repeat some of them, been there done that, no excitement. But with other goals I am very excited about more and better. Because of the COVID thing my ministry goals for last year came up very short so I am chomping at the bit to get way more accomplished in teaching goals, and other ministry areas.

The worst thing anybody can do is just go with the flow. That will result in mediocrity at best, and a very unfulfilled life. God’s will is that we bear much fruit for Him, do great things with our life. We don’t have to be capable of doing that, just willing and God makes us more than adequate to do extraordinary things with our life.

Our main enemy is our own apathy, laziness, and fear of failing that keeps us locked into our rut of doing the same o same o all over again which is usually nothing that really matters. How sad it will be to get to the end of our life, stand before Jesus and hear Him say, “you could have done so much more”. We tend to think that because of Grace He will just say, “That’s OK, at least you are here.”

The day we are going to stand before Him and give an accounting of our life is probably getting very close so live life as if it is your last before you stand before Him. Try to imagine how you will feel with your present level of accomplishments to present to Him, the Savior of your life.

Love, Joy, Peace

If God prompted the writers of the Bible to write something, we believe it is true, and if He prompted the Apostle Paul to write a prayer it must be one He will answer and He wants us to pray. In 1 Thessalonians 3:12 Paul prays this prayer, “and may the Lord cause you to increase and abound in love for one another, and for all people,” and he also prays for joy and peace. I like to say that there are many things we pray and ask God for, but we really don’t know if it is His will or not, and if it isn’t His will He won’t answer it. But it is obviously always His will that we grow in love, abound in joy, and have a peace that surpasses all comprehension so when we pray for and with each other for love, joy and peace it is a guaranteed answer. We just finished one of our “Five Days of Prayer” and ended with an average of 20 people praying together every hour for ten hours each of the five days, that is a total of 1,000 hours. We aren’t perfect at JBC but we are a church of great love for each other, we generally are overflowing with joy in spite of the current disaster we may be going through, and we have very few people who are worry warts. A major blessing from God on those churches who are devoted to prayer is love, joy and peace. I hope you were able to be part of this “Five Days of Prayer”, either in person or on zoom, it was an extraordinary prayer event.

Leadership Class

I have taught my “Leadership Class” for 40 years. It is probably the most rewarding thing I do in ministry. It is basically an in depth discipleship class where I teach the importance of faithfully practicing the basic disciplines of the Christian life, principles of time management, and the basics of goal setting. It is a great class and most who go through it grow a great deal spiritually. I will start the classes the weekend of October 17th and 18th. I will have 2 Leadership 1 classes with one being Saturday night at 5:45 pm and the other on Sunday afternoon at 1:00 pm. I will teach my Leadership 2 class on Thursday evenings at 7:00 pm and Leadership 3 on Tuesday evenings at 7:00 pm.

My “Ladies Leadership Class” is Sunday mornings at 8:00 am.

If any one would like to be in the class let me know. I limit enrollment to 10 per class.

Morning Person

I have been getting up at 4:15 am this week in order to be at prayer at 5:00 am at the church for our “ Five Days of Prayer” this week. Someone asked me if I was a morning person because I am usually the first one at the church and I am reasonably cheerful. I responded by saying “no”, if I had a choice I would stay in bed until 9:00 am every day. But that is not an option most days, so I set the alarm, get out of bed when it goes off, pray my morning prayer of commitment which has in it that I will not act the way I feel, and then off to whatever is on my agenda for the day. It is called “Principle driven living”, know what the principles are and follow them because of the rewards that they bring. I have been collecting principles for years, not that I necessarily have a lot, but I do have clearly written, well thought principles that I run my life by. A major one is, “God desires our prayers to Him, and He gives great blessings to the person who is devoted to prayer. The more time we give, and the more cost that we pay, the more blessings God gives.” The blessings are strength, joy, peace, wisdom, and opportunities. There isn’t much else that matters when you have those blessings in your life.

The Last Round

My favorite heavy weight boxer when I was younger was Muhammad Ali. I think I watched every fight he was ever in. Occasionally now I will watch three or four in a row on YouTube while I ride my stationary bike. I think my favorite fight of his was when he regained the Heavy weight title for the second time from George Foreman when he was a major underdog in 1974. The fight was in Africa and Ali called it “ The Rumble in the Jungle.” using the now famous rope-a-dope technique. My second favorite fight was when he regained the title for the third time from Leon Spinks when he was 36 years old, and was again a huge underdog because of his age and the fact that Spinks had beaten him in an earlier bout. That win was a classic because of Ali’s courage and toughness. He lost the first four rounds on points and then decisively won the next ten. In the final round of the fight Spinks and his corner new that the only way for Spinks to win was to knock Ali out, and they also knew that Ali had never been knocked out. Spinks came out like a crazy man in the last round throwing caution to the wind trying his hardest to win the fight by knockout, but even though Ali was 36 years old and way past his prime he went into his famous Ali Shuffle and simply danced away from Spinks and his flailing arms. Ali finished the fight with his best round of the fight showcasing his boxing skill and totally frustrating Spinks.

The last round reminded me of Revelation 12:12 which describes the devil’s actions in the last round here on earth. “Woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, knowing that he has only a short time.” Much of what is happening now in our country is obviously demonic in origin and if it is the last round, things are going to get increasingly worse. The devil sincerely believes he can win, but he knows he doesn’t have a lot of time so he is going for the knockout. It is time for us to go into our dance and totally frustrate the evil one. We know that God is just toying with the devil, and when the time is up he will be thrown into the “Lake of Fire”. So we need to live our life as winners, because that is what we are.

Be Strong

Over twenty times in the Bible we are commanded to be strong. Here are a few of those verses;

Deuteronomy 31:6 Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the Lord your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.”

Joshua 1:9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Psalms 27:14 Be strong and let your heart take courage;

Ephesians 6:10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.

2 Timothy 2:1 You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.

A strong person is a tough person. A strong person doesn’t quit when things get hard. A strong person is faithful. A strong person is responsible. A strong person doesn’t complain or grumble. A strong person doesn’t feel sorry for themselves. A strong person looks out for others. A strong person keeps their word. A strong person acts like a strong person.

When I was a kid I watched Pop Eye cartoons, and Pop Eye got strong by eating spinach, so I ate lots of spinach when I was young. I still like spinach and still expect that it is going to make me strong. Whenever Brutus had Popeye in trouble and Olive Oil needed saving he would just suck down a can of Spinich and the day was saved. Wouldn’t it be cool if it were that easy. So how do we become a strong person?

There is a story in 1 Samuel 30 about David that would have made a great John Wayne movie. David and his mighty men were gone from their city, and while they were gone a band of raiders burned the town to the ground, took everything they owned, their wives, and their children. David and his men returned to the city and discovered what had happened. They all wept and mourned, and David’s men were so upset they threatened to kill him, but then in verse 6, it says,
”Moreover David was greatly distressed because the people spoke of stoning him, for all the people were embittered, each one because of his sons and his daughters. But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God.” After that David rallied his men, and they took off after the bad guys, killed them all and rescued all of the woman, children and all their stuff. So what exactly did David do when it says, ”He strengthened himself in the Lord.”

He prayed and asked God to give him strength. The most often prayed prayer in the Bible is the prayer for strength. God loves to answer the prayer to Him for His strength.

Psalms 105:4 Seek the Lord and His strength; Seek His face continually.

If you want a little strength, ask a little, if you want a lot of strength, ask a lot. I ask every morning for sure, and often several times every day. I want to be strong like Samson, not physically but emotionally, spiritually, and mentally.

Super Confident

Someone said to me the other day in a conversation we were having that he thought I was the most confident person he had ever met. I thanked him for the compliment, went back to the topic we were talking about, and didn’t respond on the subject of confidence. It kind of caught me off guard a bit, and I didn’t know exactly what to say. I got to thinking about it later, and even journaled extensively about it trying to figure out what it was he saw in me that prompted the compliment.

I think confidence is probably the wrong word. What I do have is a very strong faith in God, not just in His existence, but in His personal interest in me as an individual, so my confidence is a result of my belief that He will always provide me with guidance, wisdom, protection, and strength. Because of this faith in Him I am not afraid of failing so I will try most anything. Because my relationship with the Lord is so real, that is, I have a very strong sense of being special to Him, which results in wanting to please Him with my behavior. The result is that I am not affected much by people’s opinion of me. I care for people and I want to treat them well, but my sense of worth and value comes from God. The result is a freedom from trying to project an image in order to impress people which results in a lack of intimidation and no fear of looking dumb.

My faith is not something that I have willed into existence, it is the result of my devotion to prayer and my lifestyle of prayer. In 1969 I made seven very clear goals in regards to prayer because I wanted to make prayer the most important activity in my life. I made those goals at that time because I felt like a total failure as a Pastor and I had zero confidence in my ability ever to do better. I pursued those goals relentlessly, sometimes purely out of duty, often with little faith or awareness of God’s presence, but I rarely missed keeping my commitment to the amount of time I had made the goal to spend in prayer. After a season of this ”dry as dirt duty” praying because of my goals I began to change as prayer became the delight of my heart.

Prayer is probably the most faith requiring activity there is. When you pray you are talking to a God you can’t see so you must believe that He exists, you must believe that He hears, you must believe that He cares, you must believe that He will answer, and you must believe that He enjoys and desires our time in prayer. As a result when we pray our faith grows, and the more we pray the more it grows, and the greater our faith in prayer the more we desire to pray and the more power we have in prayer.

So I guess I am confident, super confident, and it came from being a failure with zero confidence.

Hearing the Voice of God

Because of all the years of driving old tractors with not much in the way of mufflers, running chain saws, and shooting guns, all without hearing protection, I have a significant hearing loss now. Not being able to hear most of the conversations around me has created some problems over the years, some of them quite humorous. It has also caused some skirmishes with Patty as I accuse her of whispering so I can’t hear what she is saying. A couple of years ago, I bought some hearing aids, and they work pretty good, but occasionally I have problems with them. I hate wearing these face masks so when I exit a store I usually rip it off and stuff it into my pocket. The other day I discovered that one of my hearing aids was gone, and as I pondered on how I may have lost it, I thought, “I bet I pulled it off when I took my mask off after sitting down at the table in Denny’s Restaurant, or leaving. So we drove back and checked everywhere around where we were eating and found nothing. The people that were sitting where we were helped by crawling around on their knees under the table. We went out and looked around the parking lot, and again several people joined in to help us look. I eventually found it right outside the door next to the sidewalk, and it still worked fine. Being a pastor is a lot about communication with people and not being able to hear what they say definitely creates a challenge. One of the basic principles of life is that the quality of our communication is the main factor in the quality of our relationship. What is true between people and me is also true of my relationship with God.

Revelation 3:20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.

My ability to hear God’s voice determines whether He is going to come in and dine with me. That word picture of dining with me is the ultimate in relationship and closness with Jesus. We all have a significant hearing loss when it comes to hearing God’s voice.

We have four sources for the thoughts that come into our minds. One is ourselves, we all have original thoughts that spring into our minds that come from our own soul. A second source is the world around us. All day long our senses are bringing information into our minds, and that information prompts many thoughts to rise to the top of our conscious thinking. A third source of many of our thoughts is the devil and his demons. As they seek to tempt us and get us to sin, talking to us us their primary method. And the fourth is God, He speaks to us and we hear him in our thoughts. The problem we have is sorting out the many thoughts that fill our mind all day long, and decerning the source. An additional problem is that the devil and His demons work very hard at imitating God’s voice, and they have had a lot of years of practice.

As a 72 year old pastor who has spent the bulk of his life seeking God and working very hard at hearing His voice, I am convinced that the very best hearing aids available to us is corporate prayer. There is something about corporate prayer that muzzles the devil and his demons, I am not sure they can even stand to be in the room where prayer is happening. When we gather together as the ”Body of Christ” to seek God and intercede for others God’s voice will be dominate as He seeks to prompt us what to pray for. If we pay attention and listen attentively to our own thoughts and the prayers that others are praying we will grow in our ability to hear God’s voices.

Beginning tomorrow morning at 5:00 am we are going to have prayer at JBC. We will pray from 5:00 am until 10:00 am Monday through Friday, and 5:00 pm through 10:00 pm as well. We will be in the Old Chapel praying together and you can also join us via zoom. If you want to join us using Zoom text me at 503-559-5282 and I will send you the link.


Joshua 1:9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

My kids used to sing this verse as a song when they got together with all of their cousins. It was a catchy little song, and it helped a great deal in memorizing the verse.

The most interesting thing about this verse is the emphasis on the word command, this is not a good suggestion. ”Be strong, ” ”be courageous,” ”do not tremble, ” ”do not be dismayed, ” don’t do it, period! Be anxious for nothing, do not fear, that is a clear, black and white command concerning everything, no matter how big and how bad it is.

Looking out my window, I can’t see very far because there is so much smoke, it just hangs everywhere. If the existence of fear could be seen we would see it like this smoke, hanging everywhere, influencing everything. People are afraid of getting sick, of their stuff burning up, of getting lung cancer from the smoke, of the future, and their finances. The amount of alcohol being consumed in the last six months has almost doubled over the same time the previous year, drug use has gone up, the number of people who are getting counseling for anxiety and depression has increased substantially, and the number of suicides has increased as well.

Obeying the command to not fear isn’t as easy to accomplish as the command to pick up the pepper shaker would be, but it is a command and therefore it is very possible for us to live a fear free life. God would not command us to do something that is impossible to do. I am fear free; I am not uptight or anxious about anything. Here is what I do;

1. I take every fearful and anxious thought captive, that is, I stop thinking those thoughts as soon as I am aware of them in my mind. I do that by choosing to meditate on Bible verses that I have memorized well on this topic.

Joshua 1:9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Philippians 4:6-7 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Deuteronomy 31:8 The Lord is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”

1 Peter 5:7 cast all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.

2. I pray about whatever is bugging me, and ask God for strength, joy, peace, and wisdom. He promises always to answer the prayer for those blessings. If the fear and anxiety is strong in me, I will write out the prayers, and pray them often.

3. I choose to think about heaven, what it will look like, what my new glorified body will feel like and what I will be able to do. I think about flying, about all the people I will see like my Mom and Dad, and about being able to remember everything. I think about Jesus, what He will look like, sound like, and what it will be like to talk to Him. I let my imagination go wild.

I guarantee you that if you do those same three mental disciplines, you will be fear and anxiety free. It is a great way to live.