Monthly Archives: August 2022

Loving God

Husbands love their wives! Parents love their children. We love our friends. The great commandment is to love God. How? Do you? How do you know you do? How do you measure it?

Deuteronomy 11:1 You shall therefore love the Lord your God, and always keep His charge, His statutes, His ordinances, and His commandments.

John 14:21 He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him.”

The desire of my heart is to please the Lord because I love Him, to obey Him because I love Him, to serve Him because I love Him. So, how do I say, “I love You” to God. I say, “I will.”

I will be kind to my grumpy neighbor. I will take my immoral thoughts captive. I will not get angry at my wife. I will control my spending and give more to the Lord. I will not look at porn.

God’s power flows to commitment. If you blow it, confess and repent and recommit. God is patient as we pursue holiness and righteousness because we love Him.

I begin every day with my prayer of commitment with a list of “I wills.” I ask for His power and wisdom to do well. At the end of the day I acknowledge where I didn’t do so well. I don’t beat myself up, I am simply honest with myself and God, and resolve to do better. God delights to give His strength to those who love Him and want to please Him. Little bit, by little bit I grow

Climbing Mt Adams

I am going to climb Mt Adams two days from now. I am leaving my house at 6:00 am on Thursday morning, driving up to Trout Lake arriving at Trout Lake at around 9:00 am where I will meet my son-in-law, Kyle. Kyle is a Pastor in Washington, and is young and strong, and he is going to be my Sherpa and carry my camping stuff in his pack. We are going to start climbing at 11:00 am and camp on the mountain at about 10,000 feet getting there at approximately 5:00 pm. We will take a two man tent, warm sleeping bags, a “jet-boil” single burner, light weight cook stove, some freeze-dried meals, some warm cloths, a headlamp, sunglasses, sunscreen, gloves, and our cell phone to take pictures. We will take off the next morning at 6:00 am and climb to the top of Mt Adams which is 12,280 feet tall and then go back to our camp. We will decide then if we continue to the bottom and then drive home or stay another night and go down Saturday morning.

Because I grew up in Trout Lake and lived there from 1965 until 1976 I have climbed the Mountain quite a few times and climbed it just about every year from 1978 to 2017 while I was here in Jefferson as Pastor of JBC. I have made three attempts since 2017 but I failed to make it to the top each time. I hate to end my climbing career with a loss so I am going to try very hard to make it this year and then call it quits so I can go out as a winner.

I tried hard to ignore the fact that I wimped out the last three attempts to make it to the top and just be done with it, but because I knew that I could have made it if I had just persevered, it bugged me to death every year when a group from the church climbed without me. This is my last time climbing Mt Adams; win or lose so I hope I make it.

COVID or the Devil

It hasn’t been that long ago that our church was given some stringent restrictions on meeting and gathering together because of COVID. As a church we decided that the restrictions were outside the jurisdiction that God gave to government, and chose to ignore them. Governments around the world over the last 2023 years have attempted to keep churches from meeting and gathering together as an attempt to keep Christianity from growing and spreading. Beginning with the time of the Roman Empire and moving down through the years to present many thousands of Christians have been jailed, tortured, and killed because they refused not to meet together.

Hebrews 10:24-25 and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.

Matthew 18:20 For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.”

What is called the “underground church” are churches meeting together at secret times and places so as not to be found out by the government of their country.

One of the sad things about the church in America today is that many Christians have a very lax, “whatever” attitude towards faithfully gathering together with their church family. They see the discipline of gathering as a burden. God created “the Body of Christ,” the church as a key way for us to grow spiritually and in the character of Christ.

“The Spiritual Disciplines” are those practices that have been recognized as crucial to our relationship with God and our spiritual growth by the early church fathers and key leaders in church history. Bible reading, prayer, and gathering are very important and those who are serious about growing spiritually will work hard to faithfully practicing them.

Getting Older with Grace

The phrase “Grumpy Old Men” came into existence for more reasons than a movie. The fact is many older people get grumpy, cranky, irritable, moody, and complain a lot because their joints hurt, their muscles ached, their hip, knee, and back hurt, and they have to get up three times in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, they struggle to get their socks on, they aren’t supposed to eat ice cream anymore, and on the list goes. Getting old is more than enough to make anybody grumpy.

One of the hardest things to do when we have aches and pains is to suffer in silence, not to grumble or complain or tell people how we feel as we attempt to get some sympathy. I don’t know for sure if it is true, but I believe that God gives His strength, joy, and peace to those who focus on the good things in their life, rejoice and thank God for them, and endure the hard and painful things without fussing too much.

God gives strength, He gives great joy, and He gives peace, but His blessings are conditional; that is, we have a part to play, a price to pay, like we have to put gas in the car if we expect it to run even if it is $4.50 a gallon.

Philippians 4:4-8 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! . . . 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.
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, think about these things.

It helps me to make a commitment to the Lord every morning to grumble about nothing and rejoice about everything, and to ask for the Holy Spirit to fill me full of self-control.

I know some older adults that are fun to be around, because they are pleasant, positive, they smile a lot, are happy and joyful. I don’t think it is because they are fortunate to have no aches and pains, or that they are loaded up with pain-killers, I am pretty sure it is because they choose to act that way.

Getting Older

2 Corinthians 5:2-3. in this body we groan, longing to be clothed with our dwelling from heaven. . .For indeed while we are in this tent, we groan, being burdened,

Yesterday and today I cut, split, threw, hauled, and stacked firewood. I am now sitting in my recliner groaning, longing for my new, glorified body. I think the reason that we ache more, and get stiff more as we get older is to remind us that we are headed for a new life where everything is new, wonderful, strong, and feels great.

Philippians 3:20-21
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.

So, even though our body feels terrible, we rejoice because it won’t be long now until the joy that we feel and the strength we will have will be incomprehensible.

Follow Me and I Will Make You a Fisher of Men pt 5

A number of years ago I made a major mistake with Patty while I was fishing in Alaska. We were talking on the phone and I said, “while I am fishing I don’t think of anything or anybody else, my mind is totally consumed with fishing.” That may be true, but it wasn’t a very smart thing to say to my wife.

Part of our problem as an ambassador for Jesus, a witness for the gospel is that it isn’t very dominant in our thinking. What we think about most of the time controls our choices and behavior in life. A goal and discipline that will help get our thinking more focused on our calling and assignment from Jesus is to make a list of people in our life that are not believers and followers of Jesus, and to pray for them everyday. I call this list our, “seven for heaven” list. You can have one on the list or 20 who are neighbors, people you work with, people you see regularly or family. It takes just a couple of minutes to pray for these people but it makes a huge difference in our thinking and focus during the day, and God works in their life when we pray for them.

I assume that you all have a daily prayer time with God if even for a couple of minutes. Choose to pray for your list of lost people every day. This discipline is not hard, it takes very little time, but very few disciples of Jesus do this. It makes a big difference, give it a try.

Catching Fish and People pt 4

Luke 19:10 “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”

I wonder what Jesus meant by “seek?” What did that look like as He lived His life, and how does it apply to us as we follow Him as His disciples?” It is my humble opinion as I have observed people as a pastor for almost 50 years that most Christians’s pursuit of lost people is a step below casual.

In Alaska, I was obsessed with catching sockeye salmon. I fished a lot sometimes only sleeping a couple of hours between trips to the river, and when it was going to be just a couple of hours I would sleep in a chair with my waders on so as not to waste good fishing time putting and taking off cloths.

One of my fishing principles is when I haven’t caught a fish in 15 minutes of fishing I change something. Sometimes it is the size of my hook or corkie, or color or number of corkies, or the size of my weight. Most often it is the speed that I retrieve or where I start my drift. If someone around me is catching fish regularly I watch them and try and figure out what they are doing because I know it isn’t dumb fisherman’s luck.

It is interesting to note some simple things that create interest and opportunities to talk to people. I was fishing in Alaska on a metal walk way that was built out over the river to keep people from tearing up the banks of the river. There were quite a few people fishing on it, probably someone about every six feet. I started singing, “Jesus loves me more than George!” George is a friend who was fishing nearby. Another fisherman looked at me and said, “that doesn’t sound right.” I said, “what is it that you don’t agree with?” He said, “I thought God loved everybody the same.” I said, “does God love you?” There was a very long pause and he responded, “I hope so!” I quoted Romans 5:8-10 slowly, repeating several phrases.

Romans 5:8-10
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.

No decisions were made, but we had a very nice conversation and I am sure some seeds were planted.

So, I have added a new fishing technique to my collection, sing a silly song about Jesus, and see what happens.

Fishing for Fish, and Fishing for People pt 3

Principle # 1 – Those who fish the most will generally catch the most fish. Those who actively spend time with people interacting, talking, making friends with, hanging out with, fishing with, will influence many people to seek the Lord.

Principle # 2 – If you want to catch a lot of salmon look for someone who is catching lots of salmon, and ask him how he does it. Be humble, pay attention, ask questions, and then practice. Practice until you have the skill of catching fish.

Principle # 3 – Watch the fish.

The first farm that we bought when Dad first retired from the Navy was a long skinny piece of property that was bordered on one side by the road and on the other side by a creek that was called North Myrtle Creek. Our house was on one end of our property. When I came home from school I would get off of the bus and with the fishing rod that I had stashed in the brush I would fish the mile of creek to our house. I would usually catch about half dozen six to ten inch trout and I would proudly present them to my Mom as my contribution to our families welfare. Occasionally Dad would fish the same stretch of water after I did and he would always have a dozen fish that were 12 to 14 inches long. My Dad always out fished me, but he always out fished everybody.

We were fishing together one Saturday on a creek that neither of us had ever fished before. He was catching big trout and I was catching small trout. He kept saying to me, “watch the fish and put your bait in front of them, look for the big fish and target them.” But I couldn’t see the fish and he would say, “don’t look at the top of the water, look through the water and see the bottom of the creek.” I eventually learned to do that, it was just a matter of focus, focus on the top and that is what you see, focus on the bottom and then that is what you will see along with the fish that were lying on the bottom.

In John 4 Jesus says, “lift up your eyes and look at the fields that are ripe and ready to harvest.” Focus on the people all around you in your life and really see them. See them as lost people headed for hell for all eternity. Really look at them and study them, how are you going to reach them? Target them, pray for them, become obsessed with “catching them.”

Most of us live in the midst of lost people and we tend to be critical of their lifestyle, their words, their political views, and we seldom think about their lost condition.

It is just a matter of focus.

Fishing for People

John 20:21 So Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you.”

John 17:18 As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world.

Matthew 28:19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,

2 Corinthians 5:18-20 Christ gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.

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.

Principle number 1 seems rather obvious but many Christian’s have totally missed it. If you want to catch fish you have to fish, have your line in the water, paying attention, working at it, and learn the skill of fishing by learning from others.

Principle number 2. Fish don’t want to get caught. They like it in the river swimming up to their spawning grounds. They are wary, spooky, and anything out of the ordinary and normal pushes them away from what we are offering them. I use leader that is the same color as the water, small corkies and hooks, I try and make my drift the same speed as the water. I always wash my hands using sand or silt from the river as soap. And if I spook one, I don’t get upset at the fish, I get upset at myself.

Lost people don’t really realize that they are headed for an eternal place of torment and agony. They have no concept of being lost, and most often they reject our offer to share the gospel with them. In fishing for salmon presentation is very important, in our attempts at reaching lost people with the gospel, presentation is very important as well. Some Christians naively say, “just share the Word and let God do the rest.” Farmers who don’t learn and practice good principles and techniques of farming go broke, and Christians who don’t learn how to make the gospel clear and compelling will lead very few lost people to eternity in heaven.

I have read many books on how to effectively share the gospel. I have watched hours of You Tube and videos on live presentations that have gone poorly and successfully. I have written and memorized dozens of two minute stories that act as an attractant, getting people’s attention so that I can transition into the story of my faith in Jesus. When I think I have gotten their interest and that they are open to hearing the gospel I always ask permission, “Could I share with you why I am positive that I am going to live forever in heaven when I die?” Even with my most persuasive introduction, stories, and presentations most say “no.”

So, I work on the skill of being an ambassador for Jesus even more. I want to be a very successful fisher of people for Jesus.

Fishing for People

Mark 1:16-17 As He was going along by the Sea of Galilee, He saw Simon and Andrew, the brother of Simon, casting a net in the sea; for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.”

In Alaska these past three weeks I was fishing for sockeye salmon, and so were a lot of other people. People come from all over the world to fish the Kenai river. One of the the obvious observations is that some people catch a lot more salmon than others do. Why? Is it fisherman’s luck? Is it the sovereignty of God? Or could it be that some people have acquired the skill required to catch sockeye salmon? Those who want to catch fish can learn the principles, the guidelines, and the secrets from those who catch lots of fish, but then they must practice using what they have learned and perfect it until they have acquired the skill. What is true in fishing for fish is also true in fishing for people. Some Christians have learned the principles, the techniques, and the guidelines for effectively persuading people to follow Jesus Christ as their savior and lord, and they have acquired the skill and wisdom from practice.

Let’s look at a dozen principles for catching lots of fish and make application of those principles to catching people.

Principal #1 – People who catch a lot of fish, fish a lot. They not only are on the river, the lake or the ocean a lot, but while they are there they fish. I went fishing with a guy and while we were out on the lake in a boat my line was in the water at least twice as much as his was. He spent a crazy amount of time going through his tackle box finding the best lure and then changing it a few minutes later. I caught a lot more fish then he did because I fished a lot more than he did. Those who really want to catch fish work hard at it, they are motivated, and they fish. Most Christians are not very motivated to convince people that the gospel is true. In the back of their mind they don’t think anybody will believe the gospel, so they don’t learn how to effectively share the truth of God’s Word in a persuasive way.

Hell or the Lake of fire is a very real place where very real people are going to spend eternity if they are not convinced that the gospel is true.

Luke 16:24 And he cried out and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus so that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool off my tongue, for I am in agony in this flame.

Revelation 20:10 & 15 And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. . . And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

Most Christians have become comfortable with the knowledge that many people around us are “lost” and headed for eternal torment. We spend a lot of time doing everything under the sun except fishing. The apostle Paul was a fisher of men and he was motivated to speak to as many people as possible because he knew their eternal destiny was at stake.

Acts 18:4 And he was reasoning in the synagogue every Sabbath and trying to persuade Jews and Greeks.

Acts 26:28 Agrippa replied to Paul, “In a short time you will persuade me to become a Christian.”

Acts 28:23-24 When they had set a day for Paul, they came to him at his lodging in large numbers; and he was explaining to them by solemnly testifying about the kingdom of God and trying to persuade them concerning Jesus, from both the Law of Moses and from the Prophets, from morning until evening. Some were being persuaded by the things spoken, but others would not believe.