We had a “New Comers Dinner” at the church last Friday. At these dinners I share the history of the last 45 years of JBC and show videos and pictures corresponding to that history. It is a great way for people who have recently made JBC their church home to see how we got to where we are today. It has been over a year since the last dinner, and I forget how amazing the history of our church really is. As I was watching the video clip of setting the trusses on our sanctuary which happened over 20 years ago I got so overwhelmed with emotion, I was glad that I wasn’t speaking during the video. God has been so wonderful and gracious to our church over the years, and I have been so blessed to be a part of what He has done. I happened to be in the right place at the right time and have had a wonderful ride. There have been a number of key people that God has worked through to bring about what our church is today. Some of them have been part of our Body for most, if not all of our history, others for the last 20 years and some even for the last five years. They all have had the same common characteristics of loving Jesus and His Church, of having a wonderful servants heart, of being incredibly faithful, and being willing to make huge sacrifices for the health and growth of our church over the years. I am in the twilight years of my ministry and leadership at JBC and I am looking forward to seeing what He is going to do in the next couple of years as He continues to build His church.
Went to the beach today and watched my son-in-law Aaron surf. Great time. He has stopped trying to talk me into surfing.
Today Patty and I flew to Hawaii to see our youngest daughter Sally, her husband Aaron and our three grandkids that they parent. In fact I am writing this blog on the airplane. Over the last 40 years I have traveled to different countries and places on an airplane a lot. Airports and airplanes had become over the years one of my favorite places to talk to people about their life, their interests, and their faith. I said “had” because they aren’t any more because nobody talks, thanks to face masks. It is like everyone is walking around in their own little, bitty world all by themselves. Another one of my favorite activities was to walk around Home Depot, Sportsman’s Warehouse, Coastal Farm, and Harbor Freight looking at stuff and striking up conversations with other customers. I would go into at least one of those stores several times each week. I don’t do that anymore, it is a waste of time, unless I am there just to buy something, because it is just about impossible to have a conversation with anybody, nobody will talk, thanks to the power of the almighty face mask that is saving us all from death.
I wore a mask most of the day today because I would have gotten yelled at a lot had I not, and I don’t enjoy making a scene. It is a strange feeling being around people all day and feeling lonely, isolated, and like being in prison. People don’t even make eye contact with you anymore as you walk down the aisle of the airplane. No “Hi, how are you” coming from anybody.
From my research and reading I don’t think masks help with the spread of COVID at all, but even if they helped a little, I am of the very strong opinion that the price we are paying in people’s mental, psychological, and spiritual health is much greater than any benefit gained in physical health. There is a very real reason that suicides, alcohol consumption, drug use, and domestic violence have all increased substantially this past year. People were created by God for community, and for social interaction, and even the most introverted person will be unhappy without it.
People often say to me, “wearing a face mask is no different than wearing a bicycle helmet or a seat belt.” I wear a seat belt every time I ride in a car and a helmet every time I ride my bicycle, and my experience today in the world of face masks was much different than a day of traveling on my bicycle. I end a day riding my bike feeling happy, I ended today feeling depressed.
That was one of the many little sayings I would hear my Dad say as I grew up. Another one was this, “there aren’t very many truly wise men in the world, if you find one, if you can, spend time with him.” Reminds me of Proverbs 13:20, “He who walks with wise men will be wise, But the companion of fools will suffer harm.”
Another one of his gems was his definition of wisdom, “Wise men can see beneath the surface to see the way things really are.” His definition reminded me of fishing with him.
When I was a kid learning how to fish with my Dad, he would say as we were fishing up a small creek, if you can see the fish in the water you will have a big advantage in trying to catch them. He would say, don’t look at the water, look at the bottom of the stream bed, if you focus there you will see through the water and see the fish. It took awhile with his coaching but I finally got the hang of seeing beneath the surface to where the fish were.
In life most people project images, as opposed to what is really true. We all learn to do it when we are really young. It really isn’t lying, it is covering up the truth, or portions of it, it is over emphasizing some facts and ignoring others. One author that I like calls it, “blowing smoke”, creating a haze that is hard to see through.
Truly wise people can see through the haze, and see the truth. Proverbs says that if we seek wisdom like gold, silver, or precious treasure we will find it. Most people don’t seek wisdom diligently, they just assume that wisdom comes from living life, but as my Dad would say, “there are a lot of old fools running around,” they didn’t learn it from just living life.
There are three keys to growing in wisdom; (1) look for truly wise people and be humble enough to learn from them, (2) read the Bible every day. Psalms 119:98
says, “Your commandments make me wiser than my enemies, For they are ever mine,” and (3) pray and ask God for wisdom everyday. James 1:5 says, “But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” The words of Jesus in Matthew 10:16, are so appropriate for our day,
“Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.”
A couple of years ago I got deceived into sending a hundred Dollars to a person for a brand new Honda 1000 watt generator. I thought as I read the advertisement that this is too good to be true, and I was right, it wasn’t true, but the pull to get a thousand dollar generator for $100 was more than I could resist and I took the bait . After I figured out that I got cheated I got very angry, probably more from being made a fool of than loosing the money. There is something very irritating about being deceived.
The devil who is a very real being along with his myriads of demons is the master deceiver. That is what he does, that is how he messes up people’s lives, he deceives them. That is how he gains control of people, he deceives them, that is what he does. He gets people to believe things to be true that are a big fat lies, then they act and live their lives according to those lies and their lives are miserable, which is his goal.
Revelation 12:9 And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.
2 Corinthians 11:3 But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.
1 John 2:26 These things I have written to you concerning those who are trying to deceive you.
1 John 3:7 Little children, make sure no one deceives you.
There is so much stuff going around right now that is not true. A major part of the chaos is that many of those who are totally deceived are accusing those who see the truth clearly of being deceived.
The Bible is the absolute truth of God, and those who read it faithfully every day will know the truth, and they will not be deceived. Many who are thoroughly deceived will claim that the Bible isn’t true. They will claim things to be true that are contrary to the Bible. When I hear them say things that are obviously not true I know that they are deceived or are a deceiver.
When we were recently in Alaska one of my grandsons was explaining the principle of a vortex to me. He first asked me if I knew what a vortex was, and I said, “ a brand of rifle scope”. He then proceeded to explained to me that it was like the water in a toilet swirling around when it is flushed and goes down the drain. He said, the water is calm and flat and then the water in the tank is released quickly and as it rushes toward the drain the vortex is created. He informed me that the water always swirled in the same direction every time the toilet was flushed. Also that at the top of the vortex the water swirled at a slower speed with a larger circumference and as it reached the drain the speed picked up and the circle got tighter. I said, “wow, cool, God’s creation is amazing, thank you for teaching me that!”
We are in a vortex now. All of humanity is headed toward an event that is on God’s calendar like water in a toilet bowl. As the speed that we move towards that date increases a vortex is formed and things begin to happen at an accelerated pace that is terribly unnerving to most. The event and date is the day that the anti-Christ becomes the ruler of the world.
2 Thessalonians 2:3-7
the man of lawlessness will be revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship. . . . And you know what restrains him now, so that in his time he will be revealed. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way.
This passage says that the “mystery of lawlessness is already at work,” and is being restrained. The restraining work is in the process of being removed like the flapper valve at the bottom of the toilet being lifted. The ultimate restraining force is the church and the Holy Spirit which will exit this world. When that happens the devil will accomplish his goal of a one world ruler, a one world government, a one world economy, and a one world religion and total control over all the people in the world who will be forced to do his exact will.
1 Thessalonians 1:9-10 describes my attitude and job description now, “to serve a living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath to come.”
I am in the vortex now, but I won’t be for long so my motto during these days is, “relax, enjoy the ride, take advantage of every opportunity to influence people to trust Jesus, and look forward to getting taken out of this world and getting my new body!”
I am a very firm believer that God has put certain things into our hearts, He has created us with some bents. One of those bents is that there is a God, an awareness of Himself.
Romans 1:19 because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them.
People who say that they don’t believe in God are really saying that they don’t want God telling them how to live their life.
Psalms 53:1 The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God,”
Most Hebrew scholars would agree that another way to translate that passage into English would be,
The fool has said on his heart, No, God!
Another powerful bent that God has put into us is an awareness that we are eternal, that is we don’t just turn into dirt when we die and cease to exist.
Ecclesiastes 3:11 He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart,
God’s desire is that we would love Him, follow Him, glorify Him as almighty God, serve Him, and live with Him forever. God draws us to Himself in a variety of ways revolving around His goodness, but if that doesn’t work than He uses trials and hard times to turn our heart toward Him and He keeps increasing the temperature. Many never bow to God and they will spend eternity separated from Him in misery.
I have submitted my heart and life to Him, He is my Lord and Savior, and I love Him. I look forward to the moment in time when I step into eternity with Him and get my new glorified body, that will be glory indeed.
2020 was a bummer of a year, and my prediction is that 2021 is going to be worse as God works at drawing the world to Himself. That means that myself and other followers of Jesus are going to go through tough times as well, and that we need to be prepared to share with those looking for answers the truth that is found in the Bible that Following Jesus is the only way to joy and happiness forever.
Here is one of the most interesting Bible stories for me.
Ezekiel 24:15-18 And the word of the Lord came to me saying, “Son of man, behold, I am about to take from you the desire of your eyes with a blow; but you shall not mourn and you shall not weep, and your tears shall not come. Groan silently; make no mourning for the dead. Bind on your turban and put your shoes on your feet, and do not cover your mustache and do not eat the bread of men.” So I spoke to the people in the morning, and in the evening my wife died. And in the morning I did as I was commanded.
Ezekiel’s wife dies, God kills her, and commands him not to grieve over her death, and Ezekiel does as he is commanded by God. He must have loved her dearly because she is called the “desire of his eyes.” So how was he able to get up in the morning, discover his wife is dead and go out and talk to the people as if nothing has happened?
God gives strength, the Bible says that in dozens of verses, it is a major promise of God. But God’s gift of supernatural strength has some conditions attached which most people don’t meet.
Many people who claim to be Christ followers, who attend church regularly, have very little supernatural strength and power from God. They can quote the verse in Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” but they don’t live their life with much power. The reason is that most don’t see obedience to the commands and principles in God’s Word as essential or important. We are saved by Grace, no good works required, therefore obedience to God’s commands is optional in their mind. Here is the principle I live by, “God gives His supernatural power and strength to those who with an attitude of submission choose to obey Him.”
Here are a few of the commands given to us in God’s Word; don’t grumble, don’t slander or gossip, forgive anybody of anything, be gentle and nice to everyone, help those around you who have a need, don’t get angry, not even a little bit irritated, and don’t think or do immoral things. That is the short list, but just those few of God’s commandments pro-actively pursued would result in God giving us great power and strength that would flow to every area of our life.
Our daughter Shelly and her husband Phillip bought us tickets to fly to Fairbanks to spend Christmas with them. And now our daughter Sally and her husband Aaron have bought us tickets to fly to Hawaii! I think Aaron was worried about losing his status as favorite son-in-law if he didn’t keep up with Phillip😀 We drove up to Hannah and Kyle’s place in Washington for a couple of days last week so we have been having a good time with kids and grandkids of late. With all the stuff going on in the world a major source of joy for me is our family. I am an incredible happy man with such good kids, son-in-laws, and grandkids, they truly are a great gift from God in my life.
I recently finished memorizing the book of Philippians. It is a really good book with lots of inspirational verses for hard times. Paul is in prison in Rome for his faith, and probably had to wear a face mask ( unless he was eating, of course), so his comments about “rejoicing always” are not written from a perspective of comfort. I think the verse that has impacted me the most in the book is Philippians 4:8.
Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell (think about, meditate on) on these things.
It is so easy to think about current events most of the time, and make myself depressed, but choosing what I think about is one of the most important disciplines in life. Paul starts this verse with the word “finally”. It isn’t the last thing he writes in the book, but it is a summary statement of all that he has written. Verses like this are hard for me to memorize perfectly because of the long list of words, but Paul certainly gives some options besides the bad, the depressing, the disappointing, the stupid, and the confusing. His list include words like honorable, lovely, worthy of praise.
This verse is an admonition by Paul, something we can choose to do or ignore. I have identified all of the commandments given to us in Paul’s writings and made a list of them. I rearrange them periodically according to my perceived importance of them in my life at the time . Right now this verse is at the top of the list, “dwell on these things,” “think positive.”
It is easier to obey this command if I have identified some options of what to set my mind on when I wander into the negative. Here is a list of the lovely things in my life that make me a happy camper when I choose to think about them;
I love to fish so I enjoy thinking about upcoming fishing events and trips. Instead of the news I watch YouTube videos of how to catch various species of fish. It is so much fun and puts me in a really good mood.
I am restoring a 1969 Mustang with one of my grandsons, and I go out and work on it at all times of the day. I was working on it at 9:00 pm last night, and I enjoy visualizing what it is going to look like when we are finished, what is the next thing to do, and how are we going to do it. I spend time almost every night, at least for a few minutes, looking at online catalogs of parts, and watching YouTube videos of various restoration techniques. It isn’t hard for me to make a mental switch in my head to the Mustang project if I get off on the election or COVID, if you were watching me from a distance you would be able to tell when the switch happened, I would smile.
I teach or preach at our church seven times each week so I think about what I am going to say and how to make it clear, how to teach in a way that holds people’s attention, and reviewing the content for accuracy and truth. I can literally spend hours non-stop on this thinking topic. Spending time mentally preparing while I am doing other things gets me all excited about the ministry I have, and the influence I can have for God in other people’s lives. Not much else gives me more joy than teaching the Bible and thinking about teaching.
But the most positive thing that I think about is eternity. I visualize for long periods of time what it will look like, what I will be doing, what it will be like to have a body like that of Jesus, and on and on. My imagination is capable of creating almost any scenario, and the more I do it the wilder they become, and it is so much fun.
Well, as the song in the “Sound of Music” goes, “here is a list of my favorite things,” at least a few. There isn’t any excuse for me being down in the dumps over circumstances when I have so many positive things to dwell on.