We are 2 days into our “Five Days of Prayer” at JBC. We pray Monday through Friday, 5 to 10 am and 5 to 10 pm every day for 50 hours of prayer for the 5 days. As a church we usually have about 1000 hours of total people hours of praying during the 5 days, which is about 20 people in the prayer room praying together every hour. My personal goal is to pray 40 hours, 8 hours each day. If I don’t have anything else to do that is not difficult, but this time of year I have so many things I need to get done that I don’t know where to start. I need to get my Hebrews series finished and get the outlines all written, I need to write letters to everyone who is planning on attending my leadership classes, I need to get that firewood that was given to us in, I need to clean up my shop, I need to get my boat trailer finished that I am building, then there is my regular disciplines of daily Bible Reading, prayer, writing my blog, riding my stationary bike, and memorizing Bible verses, I would really like to get in a half day of fishing, and then today Sherri my daughter asked if I would build her shelves for her office, in her most persuasive way.
So, what comes first, what is last? I write everything down on a piece of yellow legal pad in no particular order, and read it over at least a dozen times, adding notes to the list of addendum chores that will piggyback on some of the things on my original list as I get into doing them, such as sharpening the chains for my chain saw. After reading the list over a number of times I write it in an order in which I will do them, then I read it again and invariably change the order, several times. The first thing on my to do list is always “write a to do list”, so I cross that one off when I get the list finalized, and it feels so good that I jump right on the second. I will make the short fishing trip the reward for getting everything done so now I am really motivated.
This process that I just described is a little bit of a grind, that is, it isn’t particularly exciting, just make a list. The result is that very few people take the time to do it. These weekly “todo lists” are the most effective things I do to take control of my life and get the most important things done first. Getting a lot of things done that matter in a short amount of time, wow, that feels good just writing that sentence down.
I got ready to get on the train in Tukwilla, near Seattle, Washington this morning at 7 am, and head home. Because I bought a ticket as an over 65 year old senior I was required to show photo I.D. so I looked for my drivers license in the normal place that I keep it in my wallet, but I couldn’t find it. I began to look in more and more different places in my wallet until I came to the conclusion, “it isn’t in my wallet”! So I replayed in my mind when I had taken it out, and realized that I had done the same exact thing in Albany 2 days earlier when I came up to Tukwilla on the train. I had taken it out and put it into my pocket so I would have it ready to show, but they never asked for it, and I didn’t remember ever putting the license back into my wallet, so it still should be in my pocket, but it wasn’t. I wore the same pants for the 3 days since I left home so I mentally retraced my steps for the 3 days trying to figure out where it could have fallen out at. About then the train conductor came up and asked for my ticket, and I asked him if a drivers license had been turned in, in the last 3 days, he immediately got on his handy dandy radio and in a few minutes said, yes, it is in the lost and found at the Seattle station. I was at the Tukwilla station so he said he would have them send it to the Albany station on the next train down. About 6 pm this evening they called and said I could pick it up anytime. It is funny how a little card consumed so much of my thinking for the day, a lost card. It reminded me of the stories Jesus told in the gospel of Luke. A farmer had 100 sheep, but one was lost, so he went back out and searched for the one lost sheep until he found it. A woman had 10 coins and lost one so she swept the house and looked until she found it. Many people are lost, spiritually lost, but Jesus works in their lives, in the circumstances of their lives trying to draw them to himself so that they might become saved, but people don’t seem to want to be found by God, so they resist Him, ignore Him, deny Him, and stay lost.
I pray every day and ask God to lead and guide me into His perfect will for my life. I pray and ask that I would not miss those promptings of God directing me into His perfect will. I pray and ask God every day for His wisdom to fill my mind so that I can see and hear the open doors that He puts in front of me, that He puts in my path, but also that I wouldn’t imagine an open door where there isn’t one, or jump on board a ministry opportunity that isn’t meant for me. I also pray that I would have decisiveness and boldness to not hesitate or procrastinate so that I miss out on an opportunity to do something great with my life for the Lord.
Often what causes me to be slow to respond is weariness. “Oh, my, I don’t want to do that, I am so tired. When God gives a job to do He also gives the strength to do it, but not until a I have chosen. I forget that truth, “I am not adequate, but He makes me adequate”. Weariness is the great tool of the devil to make me a coward. Weariness if I let it turns me into a wimp. Usually the weariness that I am feeling is a result of thinking weary, not really being weary. It doesn’t take much negative thinking to turn me into an invalid, and then I become blind to the most obvious of opportunities that God puts before me.
I rode on a train many years ago, but I have no memory of the experience, so I am counting today as the first time riding a train. I was thinking we would sit on hard, wooden benches, and be crowded. The seats are very comfortable, much better than an airplane, and it is very roomy. There was no big line or hassle getting on, and no ex-rays or metal detectors. The best thing so far, is it is very easy to walk around with wide aisles, and the car behind mine is the “food car” with really good coffee!
The way this train ride came about was because of a church in SeaTac that I was asked to Preach at this Sunday. It isn’t safe for me to drive long distances by myself because I am so prone to fall asleep because of the medication that I take for my Parkinson’s. Patty couldn’t go with me because of responsibilities this weekend at JBC, and my son Seth was gone hunting. When I shared my need at a prayer meeting someone suggested Amtrak so I went online and checked it out, and bought a ticket, and here I am.
In life I have a principle; when I have a choice to make during the day, go with the one that is new, challenging, and uncomfortable because of all the unknowns. Learning and growing happens best and fastest in an environment of new, challenging, and uncomfortable.
Today, so far is a new experience, though not radically new, but I am congratulating myself on the fact that I am here because of a life guiding principle that I established, remembered and followed.
When we raised our 8 kids we had 10 character traits that we primarily focused on in our parenting. One of the 10 was diligence, that our kids would grow up knowing what working hard looked like, and that they would at some point in their growing up enjoy working hard. As I wrote about grand parenting a couple days ago I want to influence my grandkids now, and I have written out “10 personal commandments” that I review regularly so that I actually do them. Today I split firewood all day using a hydraulic wood splitter with a friend and a grandson. The hard work was getting the wood from the back yard to the front driveway of the house of the person who gave us the trees. We loaded it in a wheelbarrow after we split it and pushed it up a ramp over the back deck and back down on a trail around the house where we threw it into the trailer. So as I followed my “grandparent commandments” on how to influence I worked as hard and fast as I could so he could see what that looked like, and even though I was panting like an old work horse I acted like I was having the time of my life. I would occasionally coach and encourage and tried to praise him often for his hard work. It was a very enjoyable day, and it was a great joy for me to see my 12 year old grandson work hard for at least 6 hours today with a very positive attitude. Diligence is doing everything you do heartily, with passion and energy as if Jesus were watching, because He is, knowing that He rewards diligence with opportunities and open doors to do something great with your life. In our culture now in the U.S. the number of people who actually have a strong work ethic is getting to be less and less, so a young person who grows up with a strong work ethic will do very well in life.
Over the years prayer has become more and more a major part of my life. By major part, I mean the amount of time and the amount of mental energy and focus is spent in the activity of prayer each day. I offer to pray for people all the time, every visitor to church, all my Facebook friends, and perfect strangers. The cool thing about prayer is I have never had anybody get offended at me asking if I could pray for them, and I have never had anybody turn down my offer to pray for them.
Different people have different levels of prayer power, that is God listens to some more than others, and He works more powerfully as a result of some people’s prayers than others. There are a number of different factors influencing the prayer power we have, but one key one is how much we pray. If the only time God hears your voice is when you are in a jam or going through a trial you will have minimal influence with God. Often people get irritated and even offended when they hear me say that, but if they would just think about it from any earthly fathers point of view they would know that what I am saying is true.
Because I offer to pray so much I get a lot of emails, text messages, and phone calls asking me to pray for medical crisis, family crisis, and everything under the sun, unless I am tied up and praying isn’t possible, I almost always stop what I am doing and I pray specifically, and with great wisdom for the trial that the caller is going through. The number and frequency of people asking me to pray for them has been increasing almost daily. I truly want to help people and influence their level of faith in God, so I pray, pray, pray.
went fishing today at Detroit Reservoir with my grandson, Jesse and a friend. It was a very nice day on the Lake in the sun catching fish, and having good fellowship. I enjoy spending time with my grandkids, especially in some kind of activity like fishing, hunting, biking, or camping. I recognize that my method of influencing my grandkids is different than when we raised our kids, but influencing them is my goal. So in order to do that pro-actively, mostly by example, I have thought through some commitments as a grandfather who wants to be used by God to make a huge difference in the lives of my grandchildren. I have written them down and call them, “The Ten Commandments of Being a Godly Grandfather”.
1. Never, ever get angry at them, not even a little, tiny bit irritated.
2. Never, ever complain, fuss, grumble, gross about anything, no matter how bad it might be, but instead always rejoice, be happy, and smile.
3. Think out loud when solving problems or overcoming obstacles, and do it with the kind of passion and “can do” attitude that a quarterback on a Super Bowl winning football team has.
4. Praise and compliment everything and anything positive in behavior, attitude, and character that I observe.
5. Give instruction in how to do things in short, simple sentences, and repeat them regularly and often until they get it.
6. Tell short stories periodically about my life and history that highlight character and commitment to Christ.
7. Ask questions of them that encourages them to talk about their faith in Christ, and growth as a Christian.
8. Ask questions that encourages them to share their values, and commitments, and /or questions that helps them form their commitments and values in life.
9. Talk to them about my goals, teach them about goal setting, and help them write their own goals and phone, email. or text weekly asking them how they are doing on their goals.
10. Pray for each grandchild daily, especially the day before a scheduled get together, and ask for wisdom in influencing them for Christ’s sake.