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God’s Presence

Philippians 4:9
The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

The promise of this verse of God being with us is made in many places in the Bible. God is omnipresent, meaning He is in every place all of the time. So why does it say that He will be with us as a blessing or a reward?

Psalms 139:7-10 Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there.
If I take the wings of the dawn,
If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea,
Even there Your hand will lead me,
And Your right hand will lay hold of me.

God manifests His presence, meaning He makes Himself “thicker.” The common description of what has been happening back in Kentucky at Asbury University is the outpouring of God’s presence. God chooses to make Himself felt. There are other places in the Bible where it says that God hides so that there is no sense of His presence at all.

One of the factors is that when we acknowledge God’s presence then He honors us with His presence. There is no activity that we do that acknowledges God’s presence as much as prayer does. When we are praying we are talking to God. Jesus says in Matthew 18 that when more than one person is praying together at the same time that He manifests His presence even more.

If we draw near to God He draws near to us. If we seek the Lord He will let us find Him. If we talk to God after a bit of time we will know that He is listening. If you are a person who would describe your faith as weak you ought to come and sit in the prayer room a lot during the “Five Days of Prayer”, your faith would grow because you would be experiencing God in reality.

The “Five Days of Prayer” starts April 3rd. We pray from 5:00 to 10:00 am and 5:00 to 10:00 pm Monday through Friday, April 3rd to the 9th. There is an awful lot at stake forever to just blow this challenge off.

A Few of my Favorite Things II

This list of things that I like to do is also the list of things that I intend to do even when I get very old and can’t do much else as a pastor. I can lead accountability groups even from a wheelchair if I had to. They are incredibly rewarding.

The second thing I love to do is to pray for God’s blessing on JBC and for all the families and individuals that are part of JBC. I am sure that my power and influence with God has gone up over the years because of the amount of time I have spent praying. God rewards faithfulness and over the last 30 years I have been devoted to prayer, and my faith in the power of prayer has grown steadily. I have come to the point in my ministry that I truly believe that what I am able to accomplish at JBC in prayer is greater than any other activity that I do including my teaching.

Over the years I have spent many hours praying for my sermons, pleading with God to guide me in my preparation and that He would grant me a special and powerful anointing while I preach so that the preaching time was a supernatural event with God changing every person’s heart who was listening. Now I pray with that same fervor and desire for Pastor Mike’s preaching pleading with God to do what He did for Elisha when He took over for Elijah and give him a double portion of what He gave to me.

I have a prayer journal on my IPad that is very complete. I have every person in JBC in it along with their picture and prayer needs that I have observed, also what I have cut and pasted out of the prayer letter each week and what they have communicated to me. If they have a ministry I pray for that to be very successful. I pray for marriages, kids, health, and many other things.

I also spend as much time as I can in our corporate prayer times, especially our “Five Day Prayer” events. I want to be like Anna in the Bible who was 84 years old and it says of her that she served the Lord night and day in the temple in prayer.

A Few of my Favorite Things

I do a lot of different things as a Pastor now, but in the early days of my ministry I did way more different things than I do now. As the years have gone by I have given much of what I used to do to different people in the church. They not only have done a better job with that ministry than I did, but now they will receive eternal rewards at the judgment seat of Christ for contributing to the health of the church through their ministry. There are a few things that I still love to do and that give me great joy.

I have such a good time with the groups of men that I meet with each week for the purpose of holding them accountable for the basic disciplines of the Christian life, and they all enjoy getting on my case when I fall short of my goals. We read the Bible every day using our individual plans for how much we read. We pray by ourselves every day, most of us pray at least 15 minutes. If we are married we pray with our wives three times each week. This discipline is one of the hardest that many guys have, and it takes many of them a long time to get this one down and be faithful to it. Less than 1% of marriages where the husband and wife pray together ends in divorce. We all write our own personal goals for the year and read those goals several times each week. There are a number of other disciplines as well that we pursue diligently, holding each other accountable, encouraging each other, praying for each other, and becoming good friends. The best part of being part of these groups (I have five groups right now) is seeing the growth in each one of the men over time, they all become solid champions for God.

I have five other ministries that I hope that I can stay healthy enough to keep doing and remain involved and faithful in until Jesus takes me to heaven, but I have used up my allotment of words so I will save them for tomorrow.

Date Night

Someone gave us a gift certificate to a very nice restaurant in Salem so I took Patty on a date tonight. We both had a very busy and full week so it was nice to go to a restaurant that had a very nice atmosphere, great service, and delicious food, and spend time with Patty. It was like an unexpected blessing from God. The only problem was that it certainly didn’t help me out with my diet, but I make exceptions quite regularly!

I am memorizing the book of Colossians and I just got started on chapter three. Colossians 3:2 says, “Set your mind on the things above not on the things that are on earth.” With all the things going on in the world, every day I think, today is the day that I am going to heaven. That will be better than an unexpected date at a nice restaurant, for sure!


Every sin that we commit has a price tag on it. We have been forgiven for our sins because of our faith in the gospel so that we are headed for heaven instead of hell. But now as Christians God disciplines us for the sins we commit.

Hebrews 12:6-7
For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines,
And He scourges every son whom He receives.”
It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline?

If we go into a store every item has a price tag on it, and the same is true of our sinning, every sin has a price tag on it.

Galatians 6:7
Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.

But there is a buffering action that we can take that will reduce the cost of our mess-ups.

Matthew 5:7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

Matthew 7:1-2 “Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.

The amount of mercy we give to others who violate our rights and who hurt our feelings is the amount of mercy God will give to us. The standard we use on people in our lives is the standard God will use on us. That truth motivates me to forgive anybody of anything because I need a lot of mercy.

Much Prayer

One of my strong beliefs is that the amount of time that I give to God in prayer will determine how much power I have with God when I do pray. Not everyone who prays is heard by God, in fact probably not very many are heard. An interesting verse is in Hebrews 5:7 and it says;

“In the days of His flesh, He offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the One able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His piety.”

“He was heard because of His piety.” You might have thought that He was heard because He was God’s son. His influence with the Father was based on how He lived His life, not based on who He was. Jesus was not heard by God the Father based on position or relationship, and we are not heard because we are children of God or Christians.

So for yourself fill in the blank, “I am heard by God because_________. There are about a dozen factors mentioned in Bible that determine how much God listens to us. I also believe that there is in our inner person, our heart, a sense that we are being heard or not. As that sense of being a person that God is paying attention to grows, our desire to pray will grow as well because our praying will be making a difference, and we will know it.

An example of one of the 12 factors determining our prayer power is in 1 Peter 3:7 “You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered.”

“Our prayers will be hindered” This passage is saying that if we are poor husbands God doesn’t hear our prayers. If that is me being rude to my wife, when the “Five days of prayer” rolls around I am going to find a dozen other things to do instead of pray.

So, if you find yourself being one of those people who struggles to make it to prayer, make that the motive that you use to motivate yourself to come. When you go to prayer and give God some time you will begin to see and understand what is your problem, what are the barriers that are keeping you home instead of in the prayer room,

I want to be a person of influence, a person of power. When I gather with the Body of Christ to pray I will begin to see my own flaws, blind spots, and character deficiencies, and I will be motivated to do something about it.

Strong People

A strong person is a person who manages life well despite trials and difficulties. They bear up under the pressures and responsibilities of life and are a great source of comfort, counsel, encouragement, and strength for others going through trials. Strong people weren’t born strong, they became strong because they applied certain principles to their life whenever they felt weak and ready to quit on life.

1. Strong people pray a lot about whatever they are going through, asking for God’s strength. They ask a lot because they have learned this principle, “The more we ask the more we will receive.” God wants our time and He is willing to bless us for our time. Much prayer – much blessing, little prayer – little blessing, no prayer – no blessing.

2. Strong people have learned that grumbling or complaining about life and difficulties drains away strength, and joy from our soul very quickly, and then we will be wimps.

3. Strong people have learned that the most important area of our life to be strong in is our thought life. Don’t allow your mind to dwell on negative thinking patterns. Thinking negative thoughts makes you a negative person who is too busy feeling sorry for yourself to accomplish much that matters to God. Strong people have discovered that memorizing and meditating on scripture is a powerful way to control our thoughts.

4. Strong people rejoice always. They tell God thank you for everything. They worship well corporately and privately.

5. Strong people know that by themselves they will give up and won’t run the race to the finish line, so they fellowship with others and they encourage others knowing that the more they give the more they will receive.


All Christians will stand before Jesus and give an account of their life and be rewarded for what they have done with their life while on this earth. Very few Christians think about this future judgment much, because it isn’t taught much in the church. There is such an emphasis on grace, forgiveness, imputed righteousness, God’s unmerited love, and mercy that God’s judgment of Christians gets lost in all the nice, positive stuff.

Bible truths that convict us or make us nervous usually get left off of our list of things to investigate or study about. We tend to do the head in the sand thing. We secretly hope that if we stay ignorant that our ignorance will bring about God’s mercy into our life.

Certain activities in this life will get extra attention in the judgment room of Christ. One of those actives is prayer. Prayer is not hard, God the Father does all the work we just ask, but the results of prayer are as significant as anything else we do. Most of the activities that keep us to busy to pray much will get very little if any attention at the judgment seat of Christ. Sad that we tend to have such a poor sense of value.

There will be a huge difference in Christians in eternity because of the great rewards some will have and the lack of rewards others will have.

My Greatest Gifts from God

My greatest blessings from God in this life apart from Himself was my parents. I had an amazing Dad and Mom. They both taught me many things but the main thing from my Dad was diligence, a strong work ethic, and a general toughness in dealing with life. My Mom was the source of all of my spiritual upbringing and the charactder trait of faithfulness. My mom was the most faithful person I have ever known. One of of the things that she would say all the time to us kids was, “you can do anything that you set your mind to.” She had quite a few different “sayings” that she would repeat often in appropriate places. You could almost predict what she was going to say by the surroundings and circumstances, and if you ever said something was too hard then you got a full lecture. I won’t say my life has been easy, but it sure has been easier than many different people that I meet. It is a huge advantage in life to be well parented. Here are a few pictures of her, beginning with when she was married at the age of 15, an early family picture, of her with great-grandkids, one taken a few days before she died, and concluding with me putting some dirt on her casket. My Mom was a great lady, servant of the Lord, Mom, wife, and grandmother. She lived such a full life it is hard to feel sad that she is gone now with the Lord.

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My Favorite Memories

The cool thing about taking pictures now is you don’t have to wait to get them developed and the date is on the top so you always know when it was taken. It is so fun to go back and look at pictures of my kids and grandkids of things we did together. As I look through them, some of them I identify as in the favorite category. This picture is one of my favorites because of what it represents. My boys Sam and Seth had been doing Triathlons together for some time so I decided to do one with them in Sunriver near Bend. It was an Olympic distance tri and consisted of a one-mile swim in Cultus lake, a 25-mile bicycle ride with some big hills, and a 10K, 6.2-mile run. I had been riding my bicycle a lot and I had run a lot in years past, but I didn’t swim much and wasn’t even sure that I could swim a mile. I started swimming three days a week at the pool in Albany with Seth and I was really slow, but I kept swimming and once a week I would swim a mile. It would take me an hour to swim it, but I was pretty sure that as I kept swimming I would get faster, but that didn’t happen.

I had to swim with a wet suit on because of the temperature of the water so I found a place that rented wet suits in Portland and rented one. The cool thing about wet suits is that you float in them. I practiced swimming in it at Foster Reservoir and discovered that it was easy to roll over on my back and take a rest whenever I needed one because I floated like a cork. In the race, there were 500-plus participants and I came in second to last on the swim. I beat an old lady. I couldn’t get the wet suit off after I got out of the water and I was rolling around in the parking lot where my biclycle was waiting for me trying to get it off. Patty said I looked like a big walrus rolling around. I finally got it off and took off on my bicycle. I actually moved up about a hundred places on the bike ride and then held my own on the running portion. My boys finished the race and then ran back and met me and finished with me. I felt very honored as their father when they did that.

I have as a guideline on my goal setting each year to do something really, really hard, and also to do something that I have never done before. That was the hardest thing I have ever done and I had never done it before. This year I am going to row my drift boat out one mile in Cook Inlet up in Alaska, catch a limit of halibut and row back. I don’t know how hard it will be but it will be scary for sure.