Monthly Archives: March 2022

Gentle vs Macho

A saw an advertisement for a dentistry called “gentle dental.” That is an attractive ad! I don’t like going to the dentist because of the pain! Though I have to admit it is mostly in my head from when I was a kid.

Gentleness is a character trait that is talked about a lot in the Bible. Jesus was described as gentle, and He declared Himself to be gentle.

Matthew 5:5 Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.

Philippians 4:5 Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near.

What does it mean to be gentle? Is it bordering on weakness? According to the Bible, it is one of the most effective of all character traits in helping other people to get over their problems, sins, addictions, and weaknesses.

When you are helping people by counseling them, encouraging them, holding them accountable, reproving them, teaching them, scolding them, and motivating them there is a perfect balance between toughness and graciousness that is needed. Those with gentleness have that perfect balance.

A person with the character trait of gentleness is wise; they understand people, they sympathize with weaknesses and struggles that others have, and most importantly, they want very much to help people become successful in life.

Of the 26 character traits that I have studied, and tried to grow in, all of them are connected and interdependent on each other. Gentleness is wise, self-controlled, patient, humble, challenging, and loyal. Gentleness is undoubtedly not weak.

How do I become a gentle person? The first requirement is to have a strong desire to help others grow to become more like Jesus in character. Then there needs to be a constant self-evaluation of our level of success or failure in every attempt to help. It is like any other skill, practice, practice, practice. When gentleness becomes a skill and we persevere in helping others and in getting better at it, the skill moves gradually to a character trait.

When we become gentle people in our hearts, we have become very valuable to God in moving people to be perfect and complete lacking nothing.

God’s Ways vs Our Ways

Isaiah 55:8-9
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways
And My thoughts than your thoughts.

One of the things that is clear in the Bible is that God often starts wars. But when we pray we always pray for peace, why? During times of war many more people trust Christ as their savior than during times of peace. During times of war the amount of prayer offered up to God is many times greater than during peace. The growth in character in the lives of Christians during war is much more than times of peace. So why do we pray for peace? Well, because people die during war! Everybody is going to die. Is there some reason why we think it is better to die from cancer or covid or even old age instead of having a bomb drop on our house?

In Revelation it says that the number who get saved and end up in heaven is not able to be counted. That is a lot of people. Why? Because of war, pestilence, wild beasts, and famine. We would certainly pray against all those things, but would a multitude so great they weren’t able to be counted still get saved? Probably not, a fraction of the final number would get saved. So, tell me, why do we pray for peace?

Revelation 6:8 I looked, and behold, an ashen horse; and he who sat on it had the name Death; and Hades was following with him. Authority was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by the wild beasts of the earth.

Revelation 7:9 behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands;

Revelation 7:14 These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.


I have been counseling a lot of people in the last year trying to help them with depression. It seems to be epidemic right now with all the upheaval in our culture. What I have found is that most don’t have an activity that is emotional energy renewing in their life. vacations are good but they are to far apart to really be of much help. For our physical energy, we sleep and eat every day, not once a year, so we need something like that to fill our emotional gas tank, something that is at least weekly, and preferably several times each week. Many don ‘t because they are so busy and don’t think they have time. That makes as much sense as not stopping to put gas in your car when empty because you will be late for work if you do.

Some things that don’t work that many think will. Watching television is the most common activity by those who think that it relaxes and renews them. It doesn’t, and in fact it will be more draining than filling. Television viewing is pretty much a total waste of time in light of what it positively accomplishes in our life. Another is sitting and doing nothing which is what many struggling with depression do. Most often the mental activity when that is done is negative which is a super emotionally draining activity. Accessive sleeping is also of little help in filling up our emotional gas tank.

It would be nice if there was a list of things that worked well for everyone but there isn’t, we are all different, and what revives us is also different. So, your number one goal ought to be to experiment and figure out what works for you. High achievers are almost always operating with a nearly full gas tank of passion and fire, because they know what works for them.

Friday I am going up to Portland to the “Swap Meet”. That is an event at the Expo Center that has hundreds if not thousands of antique and classic cars and trucks and hundreds of venders selling parts to every old car ever made. I am going up with a good friend and a grandson. Based on past experience the day will fill my tank to full and overflowing. The combination of an activity that I enjoy, time spent with a grandson that I love, and the fellowship with a good friend that has a history of renewing my emotional energy works well for me. For many, it would be boring and exhausting, so I am not saying it would work for you, but some things will, so be obsessed with figuring out what those things are. Life is too short to spend much time in a blue funk.


I have my life planned out in great detail until 1988, when I will be 90 years old. I have personal goals, ministry goals, relational goals, learning new skills goals, bicycle trip goals, hunting goals, fishing goals, car restoration goals, and many B-HAGs (big hairy audacious goals). One of the principles of goal setting is that we tend to make our short-range ( one year) goals too big and too many, and we tend to make our long-range goals too easy and too few, so I have tried to make quite a few more goals than I think I can accomplish.

The probability of accomplishing all of my goals is zero; I know that well. The likelihood of achieving some things that I have not written out as a goal is 100%. The reason is that there are many events, circumstances, roadblocks, and opportunities that will happen that I have no clue will occur and that are totally outside my control to prevent or change.

James 4:13-15 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.” Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.”

Detours, roadblocks, obstacles, road construction, and car problems on a five-day driving trip are frustrating because the trip we planned out in detail will have to change and will now take six days or maybe even more. Six of us are starting a 4,000 mile, two-month bicycle trip from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific. I have every day planned, all mapped out, every campsite chosen and reserved. What is the probability that the trip will go the way I planned it? Zero!

This problem (not sure that is the right word) of not being able to control or predict most of our future days is what keeps many people from setting goals. The frustration, disappointment, and pain of unrealized goals makes people think that having no goals is a better way to live life. It isn’t!

The solution is to grow strong in the character trait of flexibility. Flexibility acknowledges that God is in charge of my life, He has planned it all out, but He is not telling me ahead of time what those plans are. It is also acknowledging that God has made me a steward of my time, my gifts and abilities, my life and that He expects me to bear much fruit with my life. So, I do the best I can with what I know, and make mid-flight corrections as the wind blows me off course on my airplane trip to Fairbanks, Alaska.

Those with goals and a strong character trait of flexibility will accomplish much more with their life than those who just go with the flow. They will also have more fun as they conquer roadblocks and challenges.


Jefferson Baptist Church has a service on Wednesday night at 6:30 pm and I am preaching on various character traits each Wednesday. This Wednesday I am teaching on the topic of Patience. I would guess that most would believe that they could do with more patience. In 1st Corintians 13 love is described in detail. The very first word that the Bible uses to describe love is patience.

Patience is a way of acting, but more than that it is an attitude of acceptance of others who are at various levels of maturity in their character growth. It is recognizing that everybody is at different places in their growth toward being like Christ, and doesn’t expect them to act perfect at the level they are at. Those with patience also know that not everyone grows at the same rate, there are lots of factors that produce growth in us all.

When most people in a church are patient it creates an environment that allows for great growth in all who are in that church. It is the same for families that are marked by patience. There exists in those Churches and families an atmosphere of freedom and security that takes away the fear of failing and automatically encourages all in the church or family to take greater risks in attempting to accomplish great things with their life resulting in greater maturity.,

Impatient people fail to remember when they were a baby in character growth and maturity and that many were patient with them. Impatient people forget that their growth was the result of God working in their life along with many other people. Those lacking in patience are acting out of personal pride in who they are as if they are a self-made person.

Those with patience will have the most influence in the lives of others in helping and encouraging them to pursue personal character growth. God will see to that. Those with patience aren’t critical or judgmental, they don’t get irritated at what others say and do, they don’t gossip or slander others, and they are often thinking of words they can say and things they can do to encourage and help those in their life to grow.

Budgeting Time

One of my principles that I teach a lot in my leadership classes is that we all need to budget our time like we do our money. We do that with goals, to do lists, and basic strategy on living life. My basic principle says, “spend your time on paper before you spend it in reality, and then stick to the budget plan.” The purpose is to maintain balance in all areas of our life and to make sure that the high-priority items in our life don’t get run over by worldly activity that is fun but low on eternal value.

The planning of events, responsibilities, and activities for the next month looks good on paper, but if we have unexpected opportunities or crisis in our life what we have planned will change. The people who have the most control over their lives are the most flexible and patient. But our bending doesn’t mean that we don’t maintain our values and priorities.


One of the worst character flaws that a person can have is pride. We all struggle with pride, but many are proud in character. Pride controls them, and they are blind to it in their life. The Bible says God hates pride, it is an abomination to Him. A major problem for us as people is that we are capable of major blind spots, that is we can have a huge pride problem and not even know it. In our thinking and self talk we have justified all prideful behavior in ourselves until we have no clue that it is there.

Proverbs 11:2 When pride comes, then comes dishonor, but with the humble is wisdom.

Proverbs 29:23 A man’s pride will bring him low, but a humble spirit will obtain honor.

Proverbs 16:18 Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before stumbling.

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

There are dozens of manifestations of pride in the life of a person who has the character trait of pride, that is ways that pride is acted out. One of those is proud people are not correctable or teachable. They genuinely believe that they know everything they need to know. If you try to correct them or teach them anything they get offended and the resulting conversation ends up being about you and your problems rather than them learning anything.

Pride is so easy to grow in that we don’t see that we have a pride problem as it creeps into our life a little bit at a time. Pride damages our marriage as well as all of our relationships.

To conqueror pride and grow in the character trait of humility train yourself with increasingly more difficult assignments to do and apply in your life. Humble people don’t wake up one morning humble, they have worked hard to train themselves so that their character is pleasing to God.

A simple way to begin this journey is to make a goal to take out one person to lunch four times a year and during the conversation to ask them if they see anything in you that you should work on. And an even simpler version of that suggestion is to ask their advice of doing something like growing tomatoes. Doing things outside your comfort zone regularly and gradually increasing the difficulty is what training is all about. Naive people think they will grow and change just because they are living life.


JBC is having a music concert for Easter, and all the vocalists, those playing instruments, and sound people are spending a lot of time in rehearsal, practicing so that the Easter service will be excellent.

When are eight kids were young we used to get invited to dinner regularly. Before we went we would sit down at our own table and rehearse. We would rehearse issues of good manners, what they would say if offered something they didn’t like, and how to be respectful of those whose house we were going to. Because we rehearsed what they should do and offered rewards if they did good, they usually behaved very well.

I have rehearsed in my mind what I would do and say in certain situations. What will I say to a person who walks up to me after a sermon and criticizes what I taught or argues with a point of doctrine? I want to be humble, teachable, and not be defensive or argumentative, but my natural, impulsive response, I know, will be everything that I don’t want it to be. So I rehearse in my mind what I will say and do so that I will be pleasing to the Lord and not offensive to the person talking to me.

If I get news that I have liver cancer and probably won’t live for more than six months, what will I do, how will I talk, what will I think? I want to live like a man with great faith so that I glorify God and attract people to Him by my strength and confidence. So I rehearse in my mind exactly what I will say, how I will act, and how I will think. Some might say that I don’t know what I will do in that kind of situation, but I know that the more I rehearse the better I will do.

If I get a phone call and I learn that Patty or one of our kids or grandkids was killed in a car accident what will I say, how will I act, and what will I think. I think and meditate on what I believe would be most pleasing to the Lord, what would most impact the lives of those around me, in my church, and those in my family, especially my grandkids. I script that response in my head and then I rehearse it, over and over.

I recognize that I am often prideful, defensive, and selfish and that my natural self will override my will in stressful situations. I don’t want to do that, so I rehearse and anticipate every case that I can imagine happening and practice it in my head perfectly, and the more I practice, the better I will do. My goal is always to please the Lord with my life, glorify Him in all that I do, and influence as many people as possible to love the Lord.

Some might think that this kind of thinking is morbid, but that is true only if there isn’t a God and if we are not headed to heaven the moment we die. What we rarely think about, we will fear. When I get news of my impending death, if I do (I might get hit by a car riding my bicycle,) I intend to make the days following an adventure and a challenge.

The Real Battle

As we go through life we all deal with trials, pain, disappointment, failure, people insulting us, being unappreciated, having our rights violated, being cheated, being bullied, getting sick, getting really sick, and losing. A few people come out the other side of those trials as overcomers, conquerors, fueled by the challenges, not beat down. What is the secret to their success in stomping their enemies under their feet? They know that the real battle is much more than physical, the real battle is in our mind.

Losers think about their problems and trials, they meditate on them, they wallow in them. The thinking they do about their life is, poor me, why me, why now, nooooooo, oh crap, I can’t believe this is happening to me, and on it goes.

Overcomers take their thoughts captive. They know that everything in life is a mind game! Whenever we get swept under by life’s dramas, large and small, we are forgetting that no matter how bad the pain gets, no matter how harrowing the torture, all bad things end sooner or later, so tough it out. psalms 30:5 is a law of God like gravity which means it is always true and winners know it.

Psalms 30:5 Weeping may last for the night,
But a shout of joy comes in the morning.

It seems logical that Christians would have an easy time with this law because our ultimate hope is going to heaven where we get a new body, perfect health, no curse, no devil, and no death. But alas, it seems that Christians don t really think much about heaven, not much more than unbelievers

Colossians 3:2
Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.

Philippians 3:19-21 Lost people set their minds on earthly things. But 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.


Forgiveness is everything in an intimate relationship. We can have a relationship with God because Jesus paid the penalty for our sin so He could forgive us.

Colossians 2:13 When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions,

In every human relationship forgiveness is the only way to have a close, intimate, and growing relationship.

1 Corinthians 13:4-5 Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered,

When I say “I love you” to someone, I am not saying that I like them; I am not saying it as an expression of affection; I am saying it as a commitment, a particular promise that I intend to keep. When I say “I love you,” I am saying I will not take into account any wrong that you do to me no matter how bad it is and no matter how many times you do it, I am committing to you that I will forgive you of any sin you commit against me, no matter how bad it is, because God has forgiven me of every sin I have ever done. With that kind of love, any relationship will be strong and grow stronger.

Every morning I pray a prayer of commitment to the Lord. In the prayer I make about a dozen promises to God, one of the commitments that I make is “I will forgive anybody of anything, no matter how bad it is, no matter how many times they have done it, not because they deserve it but because God has forgiven me of every sin I have ever committed against Him.” At the end of my prayer I say, “Lord, I can’t keep these commitments in my own strength, would You give me the strength and the discipline to keep these for your glory.

If I don’t forgive others of their sins, God will not forgive me.

Matthew 6:14-15 For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.