Monthly Archives: March 2021

Restoring a 1969 Mustang

Isaiah 64:8 But now, O Lord, You are our Father,
We are the clay, and You our potter;
And all of us are the work of Your hand.

I am restoring a 1969 Mustang coupe with my grandson Isaac. When we get it finished, it will be his car. I enjoy working on the old car very much. It was a rust bucket when we got it, and we are putting a bunch of new sheet metal in it as we cut out the old rusty parts and put in new.

As we work on it I often think of Isaiah 64:8, where God says that we are the work of His hands. I take great pride in taking a piece of rusty old junk and turning it into a car that looks brand new and is worth a lot of money. He is working on me taking an old useless sinner and making me into the image of Jesus Christ, now that is restoration to the max!

The difference between me and an old rusty car is that I am part of the process of God making me new. I have to cooperate with the process. God gives me instructions in the Bible how to cooperate with His restoration project with my life, and as I do that I become clean, powerful, and useable for Him.

Braggarts

Proverbs 18:6-7
A fool’s lips bring strife,
And his mouth calls for blows.
A fool’s mouth is his ruin,
And his lips are the snare of his soul.

I tell a lot of stories. It is part of my teaching method. Our family grew up telling stories; stories about our family, fishing stories, farming stories hunting stories, stories of exploits, stories of failures and dumb moves, sad stories, happy stories. In conversations at work, in the back yard, over the back fence, at family gatherings, in the church foyer we all tell stories.

Some people in the process of telling stories can’t help themselves from telling stories that make themselves look good, tough, smart, successful, intelligent, even spiritual. There is usually an element of exaggeration as they portray themselves as a macho man or women.

The worst at this verbal foolishness from my observation are politicians, professional actors, sports stars, and politicians. Did I say politicians twice, yes I guess I did, and I think I will leave it that way. It is amazing that those that have such a high stature in life are so prone to bragging and attempting to make themselves out to be something they are not.

It is interesting to observe the verbal sparing going on recently between our President, Russia’s Putin, and now Turkey’s president. None of it is what you would call intelligent leadership conversation, it is more like sixth-grade boys verbally competing for tough kid of the class.

A couple of lessons for me as I observe what one conservative commentator called the embarrassing display of world leaders pissing on each other.

Lesson number one is when I tell a story about myself, I need to be sure and make myself out to be ordinary, struggling like everybody else, a guy on a journey trying to figure things out, but a man who loves Jesus.

The second lesson learned is that I need to pray harder for the President of the United States that God would fill him with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding.

It is so Hard to be Humble

Proverbs 18:12
Before destruction the heart of man is haughty,
But humility goes before honor.

One of my favorite country songs that Mac Davis, Willie Nelson, and Kenny Rogers sang.

“Oh Lord, it is hard to be humble when you are perfect in every way; I can’t wait to look in the mirror cause I get better looking every day; to know me is to love me, I must be one heck of a man, oh Lord it is hard to be humble, but I am doing the best that I can”

I only sing that song when I am fishing, but never around my wife or my grandkids!

Probably the most difficult of all people to enjoy being around are those who are arrogant, haughty, and obnoxiously prideful. They grate on our nerves, and when they are talking we would like in the worst way to tell them to shut up.

Proverbs 16:5 Everyone who is proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord; Assuredly, he will not be unpunished.

Pride is a subtle thing in us, It sneaks in and influences our behavior, thinking, and speech, and we don’t even realize it. God hates pride in us, and we will lose many blessings from Him because of it.

Pride damages our relationship with people, it damages our relationship with God, and we will be an increasingly lonely person if we don’t conquer this subtle sin in our life.

The key is to set a goal to say thank you to God at least three times every day. In those times say, “Lord, everything I have accomplished is because of You, apart from You I can do nothing.” And along with that goal set one to say thank you to people, how about five different people every day. There is something powerful in giving other people credit, affirmation, praise and appreciation.

Jabber Box

Proverbs 17:27-28
He who restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding. Even a fool, when he keeps silent, is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is considered prudent.

One time when I was talking to an old veteran pastor who was an amazingly good preacher of the Word, I asked him for some advice on how to become a good preacher. I said to him, “I would be so happy if I could preach half as good as you do, ” that was my attempt at honoring him and staying humble, but I will never forget his response, “unless you want to preach twice as good as I do, you won’t amount to a hill of beans!”

The second thing he said was, “don’t be a jabber box!” I think he could see my look of confusion and he said, ”the more you talk all day long the less passion you will have in your preaching.” He went on to say, “the early church fathers used to say, ‘If you want the oven to stay hot, don’t open the door all the time.’”

It is a balancing act for me, I need to talk to people, to work on growing in my relationship with those that I am called to Pastor, but not to be a jabber box. I need to talk to Patty, she enjoys conversation, but one thing I know is that if I listen attentively she will do most of the talking.

One thing I know is true is that the more I talk, the more apt I am to sin, and a corollary to that is, the more I talk, the less wise I seem to be.

Healthy Relationships

Proverbs 16:7 When a man’s ways are pleasing to the Lord, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.

When there is a problem in a marriage, who’s fault is it? When there is disagreement between a parent and their kid, who’s fault is it? When there is a conflict between people at their workplace, whose fault is it? When there is conflict between two neighbors, whose fault is it?

When we were raising our eight kids, and two of them got into a fight about something, and Patty or I intervened, usually the first words out of one or both of their mouths was, “It is his fault.” That statement seemed to justify whatever behavior issues were taking place.

I have done many hours of counseling over the last 40 years with people who are in the midst of a disagreement, and when I ask about the reason for the conflict one or both point to the other person as the reason for the lack of unity in their relationship, “it is their fault.”

In conflicts that I have been involved with as a counselor, neither person asked any of these questions, “what is God’s role in this situation in our relationship?” “Could God make us one, could He fix this conflict?” “What would it take for God to become an active third party in my marriage?” “What would I need to do for God to change my son’s heart?”

Proverbs 16:7 has been my main “go-to” verse for years in any conflict that I have been part of, which prompts me to ask myself the question, “what do I need to do to prompt God to work in my ‘enemies’ heart, ” and then a follow-up question to myself, “what things possibly need to be changed in my heart for God to be pleased with me?”

In summary, God loves peace and unity; He has the power to change any person’s heart and behavior easily; when one person humbly says, “Lord, change me, ” He will, and then He will change the other person as well.

Proverbs 16:7 works incredibly well, but someone has to say, “it is my fault, ” before God gets involved.

I am Happy!😀

Proverbs 15:13 A joyful heart makes a cheerful face,
But when the heart is sad, the spirit is broken.

Proverbs 17:22 A joyful heart is good medicine,
But a broken spirit dries up the bones.

Philippians 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!

I am happy because I choose to be happy. I choose to be happy by thinking of the good things in life, and even on my worst day, there are many.

I am happy because I choose to be happy. I choose to be happy by rejoicing always, even in the worst trials because God loves me, and is infinite in wisdom and knows exactly what I need to experience at any given time in my life so as to grow at maximum speed toward Christ like character and to bear much fruit for Him.

I am happy because I choose to be happy. I choose to be happy by thinking about heaven and imagining all that I will experience there. Heaven is going to be such an amazing place that I can’t come close to imagining now, but I will give it my best shot.

I am happy because I choose to be happy. I choose to be happy because I can choose to be happy, it is within my power that God has given me to choose to rise above the problem and trials of life and be happy.

Am I ever sad? Yes, but not because of my circumstances being bad. I am sad because so many are happy or sad based on the circumstances of their life, they are truly victims. And what is really sad is that many who are sad because of their circumstances are Christians, followers of Jesus, and they have no testimony, no witness for Jesus. Lost people who are headed for hell forever are attracted to people who have hope displayed in their countenance, especially in hard times.

Truth

Proverbs 14:12 There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.

I was reading a news commentary and the writer wrote, “Truth is fluid.” That statement is very untrue, but many in today’s culture believe it to be true, which is a perfect illustration of Proverbs 14:12.

At the trial of Jesus by Pontus Pilate he seems frustrated by the fluid truth of his day. John 18:38 Pilate said to Him, “What is truth?”

Truth is absolute with no fluidity whatsoever. God is truth, He communicates truth, He establishes truth, He decides what is true, He enforces truth.

John 14:6 Jesus *said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.

John 8:32 you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”

John 17:17
Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth.

Read the Bible everyday, it is the source of truth, it is the Word of God.

The Blessings of the Word of God

Proverbs 13:13 The one who despises the word will be in debt to it, But the one who fears the commandment will be rewarded.

What I am doing for a while, anyway, is picking a verse out of the chapter of Proverbs that corresponds with the day of the month. Today is March 13th so I picked a verse from the 13th chapter of Proverbs to write about. The hardest part of writing a daily blog is coming up with a topic, and this should help some. I still have to pick the verse and write the commentary, but this should end the sometimes hours of indecision about what to write about.

The Bible is the living Word of God, and apart from it, we can’t have a relationship with God. We grow in our relationship with God by reading, memorizing, and meditating on His Word. Our flesh is not inclined towards knowing God more or doing His will, so our flesh is constantly pulling us away from faithfully reading, studying, or memorizing it. Our flesh is a significant anchor in our life regarding spiritual goals; it is like trying to run a marathon pushing a wheelbarrow with a hundred-pound sack of chicken food in it.

The devil wants to run our life, he wants to destroy our life, he wants to pull us away from God, and he wants us to ignore the Word of God. He works at controlling our life by talking to us, and we hear him in our thoughts. Have you ever had the thought pop into your head, “I am so tired tonight; I will read my Bible tomorrow night?” Where did that thought come from?

There are over a hundred different blessings that come into our life from faithfully reading and memorizing the Bible. God wants us to read His Word, so He motivates us by giving us rewards when we read it. Here are just a few;

– great peace, supernatural wisdom, restores our soul, we will know the perfect will of God for our life, we will grow spiritually, the joy of the Lord, inner strength to manage pressures and trials, more significant and increasing faith, and increasing power in our prayers to God.

That is just a few of the clearly started blessings that come from God when we honor Him by reading and living His Word. The key to faithfully reading and memorizing His Word is to set a goal. Then to become part of an accountability group that meets regularly, weekly is best, who will encourage you to be faithful to the Word of God every day.

The Humble are Lifelong Learners

Proverbs 12:15 A wise man is he who listens to counsel.

Back when Patty and I only had one child, and were still farming, we drove 2 hours every week one way for three months to get counseling on how to raise godly children. The counsel that we received lasted just 15 minutes at each session, but it was very profound, wise, incredibly practical, and when the 15 minutes were up each week we knew exactly what to do with what we had heard.

We went to numerous seminars on raising children that lasted several hours each evening and lasted from 2 days to as long as a week. We read dozens of books on the topic of raising godly kids, and we visited informally with parents who seemed to be doing an excellent job with their kids.

We did all of that because we both wanted to raise terrific kids who would love the Lord with all of their hearts, and we both felt very inadequate for the job of raising a child that belonged to God with the results of our parenting lasting for eternity.

Seeking wise counsel and advice from others on how to have a good marriage, how to raise champions for God, how to manage our money, how to grow in our faith, how to succeed at our business, how to study the Bible, and dozens of other life skills is very Biblical and one that God honors. God is opposed to the proud (one who thinks he already knows how to do it) but gives the humble grace.

There are too many critical skills needed in life to try and learn them by trial and error. There is too much at stake to allow our pride to keep us from learning from others. We go to school to learn how to read and do math, where we learn from others, but we are sort of forced into that role, but we ought to be lifelong learners and seekers of wisdom. There are wise people all around us if we look for them, but our pride keeps us in the fool category.

Hope

1 Corinthians 13:13 But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.

Paul basically is saying that love, faith, and hope are the best, the greatest, the most powerful of all words. We can see that for faith and love, but hope? Why is hope in the “big three?” Our problem is that we understand hope with the definition of, “maybe we will, maybe we won’t; I hope it happens, but I am not sure it will.” Hope doesn’t seem all that important, all that powerful with a definition like that.

But Paul uses the word hope to mean “a positive expectation of a future event, ” and the future event is eternal life with Jesus and a brand new body that is just like His to boot. The Biblical command is to fix our mind, our thoughts completely on the hope to be revealed to us when we die or when Jesus returns. “The hope” is the event, the day, the moment we see Jesus, but “hope” is also a condition of our heart where we know without a doubt that we are headed for heaven and anticipating it with great eagerness.

Those with great hope instead of a little hope have zero fear of death, in fact they are looking forward to the day they die physically and are resurrected spiritually to be in the presence of the Lord. Zero fear of death, there are a lot of people who would have lived life with so much more joy and freedom during this last year with all of the COVID paranoia if they had some hope.