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How Easy it is to Go Backwards

Revelation 2:4 But I have this against you, that you have left your first love.

Revelation 3:16 So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth.

Hebrews 6:6 and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance,

Hebrews 3:12 Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God.

There are a lot of warnings in the Bible about falling away from God. I see it happen often, and it is one of the most discouraging things for me as a pastor to witness in people. I have seen people backslide, repent and grow, backside again, repent and grow, and backside again.

The foundational reason is the same as Adam and Eve’s fall in the very beginning, the devil and his demons are very real, very crafty, they hate us, they hate Jesus, and they work on us non-stop.

2 Corinthians 11:3 But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.

1 Peter 5:8 Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

The second basic reason is the world, the money, and the stuff that is in the world that is all around us all of the time. We quickly become entangled in it, and we easily fall in love with it.

If we become haphazard in our spiritual disciplines like daily Bible reading, prayer, gathering with other believers and worshiping God we will fall away, guaranteed, and it is the business of life caused by all the stuff in the world that is the main competition to the spiritual disciplines.

1 John 2:15 Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

Luke 16:13 No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.

Loving the world and the money and stuff in it is very, very easy to do. We slide into it hardly even noticing, and when we are loving the world even just a little bit we have fallen from our first love.

We need to have a holy fear of drifting away from God recognizing that once the slide begins it is very difficult to stop.

Hebrews 4:1 Therefore, let us fear if, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any one of you may seem to have come short of it.

The most important safeguard against turning your back on God is a strong and healthy accountability relationship with others. But sad to say, most Christians don’t think they need it, and they are too busy in the world to make time for it.

Hot Tubbing

One of my favorite things to do is to sit in my hot tub. The muscle stiffness and rigidity that comes from my Parkinson’s feels so much better after a hot soak in swirling water for fifteen minutes. It is a little hot tub with room for only one person at a time. I bought it off Craig’s list about ten years ago for $500 and it has been going good ever since. Sometimes when I run out of the powdered chemicals that I put in the water I will steal a bottle of chlorine out of Patty’s laundry room and use that. But this morning I must have grabbed a wrong bottle because it made a whole slew of suds.

When I first get into the hot tub I almost always go immediately asleep, which I did this morning. After I had been asleep for just a little bit I had this strange sensation that I was getting eaten so I opened my eyes and everything was white, I couldn’t see anything but white. I thought maybe I had died and I was in heaven, and I wondered when I would see Jesus, an angel or someone I knew. But then my eyes started burning and when I reached my hands up to rub them the real world broke into view, and I realized I was still here but in a mountain of suds, what a disappointment that was.

Drawing Near to God

Psalms 73:28 But as for me, the nearness of God is my good;

James 4:8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.

Psalms 27:8 When You said, “Seek My face,” my heart said to You,
“Your face, O Lord, I shall seek.”

Deuteronomy 4:29 But from there you will seek the Lord your God, and you will find Him if you search for Him with all your heart and all your soul.

How close am I to God? How do I get closer? How do I draw near to God? How do I seek God? What does it feel like to be close to God rather than far away?

The closer we are to God the more joy we will feel. The closer to God we are the more boldness and courage we will have. The closer we are to God the stronger our self-worth will be.

Psalms 16:11 In Your presence is fullness of joy;

There are numerous ways we can draw near to God. The Bible gives answers and illustrations on hów to successfully be a friend of God and not simply an acquaintance.

One key way to seek God is by being a positive person, one who thanks the lord for everything. The more thankful we are the more God will reveal himself to us. God is just like I am in that He doesn’t enjoy spending time with a complainer, grumbler, or whiner.


I think that as God orchestrates our life as a Potter with clay that he designs the consequences of getting older to be added weight on the barbell of our life to make us stronger and more like Jesus in character. Things were so much easier when I was younger. Just getting my socks on in the morning now is a ten-minute ordeal. As of late I have found myself paralyzed, stuck in my recliner. I am not really paralyzed, it is just easier to stay there than get up and do what I am supposed to do, so I just sit there, seemingly unable to move. The self-control needed to get with it hasn’t caught up with the effort required to get up and do something.

The character growth takes place as I recognize what is going on in my life, and determine to conquer this and then to just do it. The fact that it takes more effort and time is just how it is, not just for me but for most people as they get older and, for many, much worse than what I am experiencing. I can still fish, work on my car, preach and teach for hours, work on my house, and ride my bicycle, it just takes more effort, determination and time than it used to.

The cool thing is that God wants me to grow in character, to run the race that He has set in front of me with endurance, and to be diligent, self-controlled, and joyful in the process. He gives me His strength to do just that, and I have the promise that He won’t put more weight on the bar at any one time than I can handle.

Another cool thing is that the recliner I have has an electric hoist, so I push a button, and it lifts me right up to my feet. Now if I could just get it to put my socks on I would be set.

Loving Patty the Way Jesus Loves the Church

Years ago I decided that when I say “I love you” to Patty it needed to be more than an expression of affection, it needed to be an expression of my commitments to her, so I wrote out a list of seven commitments and expanded the list to a dozen on our 50th wedding anniversary. Every time I say I love you I am remaking these commitments. A few of them are;

(1) I will not get angry at you, not even a little bit irritated, no matter what you do.

(2) I will talk to you any time you want, for as long as you like, and I will honor you by paying sincere attention to your words.

(3) I will pray with you at least three times each week.

(4) I will not be bossy or controlling of you.

(5) I will not be selfish or possessive of your time, and will give you all the freedom you desire to develop your spiritual gifts and ministry.

(6) I will regularly ask for your opinion and counsel on character weaknesses and blind spots that you see that I need to work on in order to enhance my walk with Christ, my role as a pastor, and as a husband to you.

Accountability Groups

Proverbs 27:17 states, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” We must always stay sharp. For this to happen, strong and positive relationships are a necessity. It requires building a community of like-minded individuals who genuinely care about each other and want the best for each other. Way too many men are not in any kind of group that has as it’s purpose to “sharpen one another”. The reason is that they don’t think they need to be part of such a group. They might think that it would probably help them a little bit.but it isn’t worth the time it would take. God created us so that we won’t come close to being what we could be or accomplish what we could accomplish without help from others. He made us, wired us, saved us, and put the Holy Spirit in us, not so that we could declare independence from others, but so that we would have power to help others. We give and receive grace from each other but only in an environment of love, forgiveness, acceptance, and gentleness.


There are

about a dozen areas of life that need balance in order for us to be healthy, happy and successful. One of those areas is balance between having an intense desire to accomplish a goal and being relaxed about accomplishing that same goal.

Intense desire, passion, want, and focus is the difference between being a person who is a true champion continuously accomplishing significant goals or a person who is mediocre at best in his life and life accomplishments. Being a person who is driven to accomplish significant things saves you from being lazy and unmotivated.

But being an intense, focused, and driven person can be hard when a goal that we are pursuing isn’t accomplished, the disappointment from unrealized dreams can be very painful. The pain of the disappointment tends to make us difficult to live with. But a highly motivated, focused and passionate person tends to think that he will accomplish all of his goals, but there are to many things in life that we can’t control to make that even a remote possibility. So we alternate between the joy of winning and the disappointment of losing.

A totally relaxed person is ok with not accomplishing a goal, not getting everything on the “todo” list crossed off. He is much more into the process of accomplishing the goal, the journey of accomplishing something significant needs to have a significant amount of fun in it. A totally relaxed person will have a lot of friends but few significant accomplishments in his life.

Being a person who is walking on a 2 x 4 going between two buildings 100 feet off of the ground will require amazing balance to accomplish that short journey without dying.

Having a balance between being totally obsessed and being relaxed will result in us being faithful, diligent, and enjoyable to be around.

I Have Sinned Again

As a 74-year-old pastor I don’t get drunk, take drugs, shoplift, cheat on my taxes, have affairs, swear, look at porn, or even get angry. But I still struggle with sinning. I think a lot of wrong thoughts about other people and about myself. I say things that I wish I hadn’t said a few minutes after the word’s leave my mouth. I am lacking in self-control in controlling my thoughts, my words, and also in managing my time well, in managing our money, and in eating.

Psalms 106:6 We have sinned like our fathers,
We have committed iniquity, we have behaved wickedly.

Psalms 38:4 For my iniquities are gone over my head;
As a heavy burden they weigh too much for me.

-Every night I examine my life and confess all known sins to God.

1 John 1:9
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

-I pray and declare that I hunger and thirst for righteousness, and that I will diligently pursue righteousness.

– I acknowledge that apart from Him I am nothing and have zero ability, strength, or self-control to change my own life, but I can with His strength so I ask God to bless me with His supernatural power in my inner man.

I recognize that the journey to holiness is slow because of the strength of my flesh, the attractiveness of the world, and the cleverness of the devil, but I commit to going up, not down, and I will not plateau in my growth thinking that I am good enough.

I will faithfully maintain the spiritual disciplines of reading the Bible every day, spending time with God in prayer every day, memorizing and meditating on key Bible verses every day, gathering with other believers often, giving, thanking the Lord constantly for my life and blessings from Him, grumbling and complaining about nothing, constantly seeking advise and counsel from other successful and strong people around me, reading good books, and listening to sermons and lectures on podcasts.

Jesus is coming soon I think, and if He doesn’t come quickly, I have 10 to 20 years left to live before I enter eternity with my character and stand before Him and give an account of my life.

Knowledge, Wisdom, and Understanding

Knowledge is knowing a lot of information about a lot of different things. Wisdom is being able to solve problems, to create things, knowing what to do and what to say in any situation or circumstance in order to succeed. Understanding is knowing why things are happening the way they are and knowing why people do what they do, being able to see beneath the surface of events in life.

People have the ability and potential to grow in knowledge, understanding, and wisdom as they grow older because of the lessons of life experienced on our own journeys, but many do not learn those lessons, in fact it appears that most do not.

Proverbs says that a major requirement to grow in these three is to seek them like gold, silver, and precious treasure. The first step in being a seeker is to read the Bible regularly and often, and then add to that systematically memorizing key passages and verses in the Bible and meditate on them daily.

Knowledge, understanding and wisdom seekers are readers, they have developed the habit of reading a lot in a variety of areas. They also listen to good teachers and speakers on a variety of subjects. With the modern day “podcast” listening to those with wisdom, knowledge, and understanding is easy. A major reason to build our pursuit of knowledge, understanding, and wisdom on a steady and large dose of the Bible is that you will be able to sort through all the books and teachers and eliminate the ones who teach error.

A steady flow of information into our head and heart will orient our minds to being in a constant state of seeking and learning. All day long as we live life we will be observing, listening, evaluating and storing information. The more we learn in our reading, listening, and experiencing the faster we can learn more and grow rapidly in knowledge, understanding and wisdom. It is like learning math, you won’t learn much algebra until you have basic math down.

So the bottom line is make goal to read, study, and memorize the Bible. Make a book reading goal. Make a listening goal. Write them down and read them everyday. Develop a routine so that you mostly read in the same place and at the same time every day. Listen while driving, exercising, mowing your lawn, and doing other activities. Being a seeker, a learner is a developed lifestyle, pursue that lifestyle diligently. There are a lot of old fools running around, determine not to be one.