I love Tuesdays because I have 4 men’s accountability groups that meet on Tuesdays one at 5:30 am, another at 6:30 am, and another at 7:30 am. These three all meet at Denny’s restaurant in Albany in the same booth back to back to back. I then have one in my office at the church at 6:00 pm and at 7:00 pm I attend a men’s prayer time for an hour. During the accountability time each guy shares how they are doing on their goals and we congratulate, praise, and encourage appropriately. We all have Bible reading goals, prayer goals, pray with our wives goals, some have exercise goals and weight loss goals, some have kid goals, job goals, home project goals, and guys like me have fishing goals. Most everyone has about a dozen goals that they share each week. When we finish sharing our goals we usually quote some Bible verses that we are working at memorizing and then tell fishing stories or whatever. They are great times of fellowship, encouragement, and friendship which I enjoy very much. It is my opinion that every man ought to be in an accountability group either because they need it or because they can be an encouragement to others who need it. When those men who have their acts together opt out of these groups then there are few models and examples for others to follow. The Bible makes it very clear that if we have been taught by others then we need to teach others, if we have been encouraged by others than we need to encourage others, and if we have been coached by others than we need to coach others, anything less is selfish and irresponsible.
As therapy for my Parkinson’s I ride my stationary bike 4 nights a week, and row on my rowing machine after the bike, 60 minutes on the bike and 15 minutes on the rowing machine. Three times a week I lift weights out in my “Man Room” for about one hour, using a program called “StrongLifts 5X5”. There are 5 different lifts and on each one I do 5 reps 5 times with a 3 minute break between reps. One night I will do squats, bench press, and the bar bell row, and the next time I lift I will do squats, over head press, and the dead lift. So I do squats every time I lift, and alternate between bench press, bar bell row, and overhead press, dead lift. During the 3 minute breaks I work on memorizing Bible verses. The App I have is really cool in that it times you between lifts and beeps when time is up, it automatically increases the weight by 5 pounds when I successfully lift the current weight 5X5 times and it leaves it the same if I only can do 4 on any one of the 5 lifts. It is fun adding weight, successfully lifting it and adding more.
That is the way I train myself spiritually as well. I add another verse to memorize, increase the amount of Bible that I read each day, read another book, push myself to read a little faster, add another goal to my list of goals, learn something new, do something new and different, go someplace I have never been, and learn a new skill. Just a little bit more over time results in significant accomplishment and growth. The key is don’t get content or lazy, keep pressing on, just a little bit more.
Someone was sending text messages today to people in our church as if from me saying that I was in trouble and needed money. I think most checked with me to see if it was genuine because there was a couple of things in it that made it suspicious. First it was the grammar, my grammar is bad but not that bad, second they signed it Pastor Dee Duke, I don’t believe I have ever signed a text message that way, and most who got the text recognized that fact, and then the phone number they used wasn’t mine and most who received a text know my number. Earlier today I got a phone call from someone saying they were from Social Security investigating a crime, and I had been identified as a culprit! I just hung up, but I got to wondering what would have happened if I had played along for awhile.
I googled “Scammers” and got some interesting information about the various scams going. A common one is with dating services, poor people, here they are looking for companionship and someone steals their money! One heading was, “How to scam successfully”, I bet they charged a lot for that one😀 It seems like a sad way to live one’s life, spending your days sending text messages, emails, and making phone calls trying to trick people so as to steal their money. Almost sounds like a computer game.
The devil has a number of names in the Bible, Lucifer, Satan, the dragon, the adversary, but I think a good one would be “The Great Scammer”. He is called the deceiver, trying to trick people into believing a lie instead of the truth. A scammers goal is to steal our money, but “The Great Scammers” goal is to steal our joy. The key to being “scam proof” is to know the truth, because scammers are always lying, and if we know the truth we will spot a lie a mile away.
When I was a kid we used to sing a song in Youth Group called, “Lead me, Guide me”. I remember thinking while we sang that song, “how does God do that”. I had never heard an audible voice that I thought was God’s nor have I heard one since. I think that it is a combination of God giving us wisdom as we seek for wisdom, giving us guidance through wise people that we seek counsel from, from His Word as we read it faithfully, and from promptings that He puts into our mind in the form of thoughts.
God guides those who want to be guided, who want to follow Him and obey Him, who believe that God knows much better than we do what is the best choice among the many that we make every day. A great way to communicate that desire is simply to ask for Him to guide, to seek wisdom, and to read His Word faithfully. These verses from Psalms are great ones to memorize and to pray back to God.
Psalms 5:8. O Lord, lead me in Your righteousness, Make Your way straight before me.
Psalms 25:4-5 Make me know Your ways, O Lord;
Teach me Your paths. Lead me in Your truth and teach me, For You are the God of my salvation; For You I wait all the day.
For You are my rock and my fortress;
For Your name’s sake You will lead me and guide me.
Psalms 27:11. Teach me Your way, O Lord, And lead me in a level path.
Psalms 143:10. Teach me to do Your will, For You are my God; Let Your good Spirit lead me on level ground.
In Galatians 2:20 Paul says, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me”. Paul is saying, “it is no longer I who am choosing what to do all day long, it is Jesus Christ who lives in me who is choosing, and I am following and obeying Him”. Practically speaking how does a person pull that off and make it happen? It sounds super spiritual and in fact it is super spiritual if lived out that way.
It begins first thing in the morning when we say to the Lord Jesus silently in our thoughts or out loud, “You are Lord of my life and I will follow and obey You today”! Then in another hour we will say that again, and again, and again, all day long. It isn’t hard to do that and it only takes about 10 seconds to pray that simple 14 word prayer. The problem is we won’t remember to do it, we will simply forget because of all that is on our mind. The trick is to attach this simple discipline to something we already do all day long. For me it is looking at the screen on my cell phone to see if there are any new text messages or emails or missed calls. It was pretty simple to put a piece of masking tape cut 1/2 inch wide across the top of my phone with the words, “Jesus is Lord” written on it.
“You are Lord of my life and I will follow and obey You today“. Saying that simple 14 word prayer a dozen times every day will program our mind, our will, and our heart to listen for promptings from God on what to do and what to say all day long. Can you imagine how much more successful we would all be in our relationships and our goals if we followed the promptings of God. Also God will lead the person who will follow, He will speak to the person who will listen and obey, and by saying “I will follow and obey” God is prompted to lead.
“It is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me”
There are about 500 verses in the Bible on the topics of angels and demons, and I looked them all up, read them, thought about them, and wrote observations and conclusions from each of them in preparation for my teaching on the topic in my Theology and Doctrines class on Sunday morning at 10:15 am
Some people don’t believe in either angels or demons because they can’t see them, but many people have seen both, especially demons. I have several good friends who aren’t given to seeing things, making things up, or saying things to get attention, and both have seen demons, describing them as a black cloud or vapor the shape and size of an adult person. For me the greatest proof of the existence of a devil and his kingdom of darkness is the depth and extremeness of the evil that is in the world today, there must be a source and driver for all this wickedness.
I came up with about 50 observations from the verses that I studied but I will share just a handful here.
1. The angels of God and the demons of the devil, the kingdom of light and darkness, are fighting and warring continuously.
2. Whoever is winning the war that is being fought over our heads is who controls the affairs of the world in general and the affairs of the individuals who have no clue what is happening.
3. Our part in the whole scheme of things is to pray. When we pray God commission’s more angels to fight and supernaturally energizes the ones who are fighting. The more people who pray the more angels there are fighting against the darkness and the more power they will have to fight. When evil is gaining ground around us it is because there is a supernatural energy crisis because to many people are to busy to pray.
I went to a chiropractor this morning because of the neck pain I have been having for the last couple of months. I found out that he used to take piano lessons from my daughter Sarah before she was married and still lived at home. We had a nice conversation about the good old days and about people who we both new. Then he got to work fixing me. He did what he called an alignment and afterward my neck felt much better. Right now I am sitting in my recliner with ice on my neck trying to get things to feel even better.
I was thinking my life gets out of alignment,that is I let unimportant things take over the very important things. It happens gradually enough that I don’t notice, and then something happens to bring it to my attention. Wouldn’t it be nice if could just go to a spiritual chiropractor and he could give me an alignment and get everything back where it belonged. The best way for me to be my own chiropractor is to do some reflective thinking about who I am becoming and what I am doing that really matters and to make some choices and commitments to change some present out of aligned habits.,