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Praying for Biden

The last month has been a huge, major, humongous disappointment for me. I have been praying very hard for President Trump’s re-election, but that didn’t happen. So now I need to make some adjustments in my thinking and heart, and pray diligently for President elect Joe Biden.

1 Timothy 2:1-4 First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

I am going to pray for him and his staff that God fills them with a knowledge of His will, and fills him full of spiritual wisdom and understanding, that He delivers him from any influence of the devil and his demons, that God would keep him healthy and strong, and mentally alert, and that He would bring godly people into his life to influence him in his decisions.

My natural inclination is to be judgmental, to let my opinions and feelings control my behavior, and to pray that God would kill him or at least make his life a train wreck.

But I am committed to obeying God, and his Word says I am to honor my President and pray for his success. So here goes. . .

Justice

Proverbs 21:3 To do righteousness and justice
Is desired by the Lord more than sacrifice.

Proverbs 28:5 Evil men do not understand justice,
But those who seek the Lord understand all things.

Jeremiah 5:1 Roam to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem, And look now and take note. And seek in her open squares, If you can find a man, If there is one who does justice, who seeks truth,

Proverbs 29:27 An unjust man is abominable to the righteous, And he who is upright in the way is abominable to the wicked.

Proverbs 29:26
Many seek the ruler’s favor,
But justice for man comes from the Lord.

Isaiah 30:18 God Is Gracious and Just, therefore the Lord longs to be gracious to you, and therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you. For the Lord is a God of justice; how blessed are all those who long for Him.

Most people crave justice, and fairness between themselves and others, and a growing level of injustice in the world creates unrest, insecurity, and anxiety.

I can’t fix the world, but I can fix me. I can choose to long for Jesus, to seek Him with all my heart, and to love Him and then He will give me great peace, hope, confidence, and joy. I am praying that in the midst of the fear of COVID, the angst of political division and conflict, the anxiety of future financial upheaval, and the feeling of bondage that comes from an oppressive government that many people will seek Jesus. The Bible promises that if we sincerely seek Him we will find Him and if we draw near to Him he will draw near to us. He indeed does give us peace, hope, security, and joy.

Decisiveness and Goals

I was in an car accident once when I was the passenger. I could see the accident happening right before me, and I was helpless to do anything about it. The person driving could have easily avoided the accident, but they froze up and could not seem to make a decision on what to do. They later said that the fear of doing the wrong thing caused them to do nothing. My thought was that just about anything would have been better than what they did which was just hang onto the steering wheel and hope for the best. The accident didn’t end up causing any bodily damage to those in either vehicle , but the car I was in was totaled and it looked like the other one probably was as well.

There are a lot of people who do the same thing in life. They are so afraid in a crisis or difficult situation of making the wrong choice that they make no choice at all. One of the major reasons that there are so many people who go nowhere in life, spiritually, occupationally, relationally, financially, and physically is because of indecisiveness. A corollary of sorts is the reluctance to change or try new things because of the fear of failing. Continuing to do the same old stuff that hasn’t worked but at least it is predictable is where many people live their entire life. I call it chasing your tail or treading water. There is the opposite of that, which is impulsiveness. Impulsiveness results in being unfaithful, and irresponsible, being a person who doesn’t follow through on things, not because of a healthy pursuit of change for progress and growth, but again because of a fear of failing and discontentment.

Those who are wise, decisive, responsible, faithful decision makers are successful and almost always grow and make good progress in life in every area of life. A major tool that successful people use is goals. A goal is a decision to do something after careful thought, prayer, research, and investigation. It is a decision that is written down, reviewed often, thought about, planned, and based on on inner desire to succeed and accomplish something significant with our life.

Goal setters are decisive and responsible, they are neither indecisive or impulsive. Goal setters get good at anticipating the needs of the future and are prepared mentally, emotionally, physically, and financially to deal with whatever comes, they are confident, strong, and faithful.

It is quite amazing to me that the weak link in the goal setting discipline and skill in most people I attempt to help is the reluctance to write our goals down and then to read them. It is like the guy who never changed the oil in his car, he was always going to do it, just never got around to it.

88 goals for 2036 – Ministry

Jefferson Baptist Church has been my life for 44 years and I am writing these long range goals for the next 16 years which will make 60 years of Pastoring at JBC. For the last 44 years my job description has not changed much. I have done some adjusting as the numbers of people attending has increased and the number of staff has increased, but it has basically been the same emphasis. I have been the preacher of the Word, the vision caster, the main goal setter, the leader of the staff, the leader of the church, the senior Pastor, the spiritual Dad. I am now wanting to make some significant changes in what I do for two basic reasons; the first is because my energy level physically and my passion emotionally are beginning to decline gradually but noticeably. I am working at being faithful in stewarding my mind and body, but it is inevitable that I won’t be able to duplicate or keep up what I was able to do in years past. I want to keep doing ministry, but with some changes that will be easier to maintain quality performance in. The second reason is because I want the transition from my leadership of JBC to Pastor Mike Dedera’s leadership to be gradual and heathy. By healthy I mean that the church doesn’t suffer from disunity or lack of growth, or that I don’t feel depressed by moving to a bench player role after being the coach for all these years, or that Mike doesn’t feel frustrated by the slowness of the transition. My preference is that things go slow, but I recognize that I am getting to the age where health issues of heart, or cancer, or a dozen other faulty body parts would require me to quit all together or that I would just fall over dead, and I want things to be far enough along so everything will go super smooth as Mike is handed the entire responsibility of being the senior Pastor. All that to say that I need a plan and goals so that things happen when they are supposed to happen, and we don’t end up treading water and floundering in this process. JBC is a great church and it has potential to be even greater in the days ahead if I don’t mess things up.

88 goals for 2036 – Exercise and Health goals

I reached my peak in strength stamina, and athletism when I was 25 years old, plateaued the next 10 years, and then lost 5 to 8% of my strength every ten years after that; at least that is the average, what most people do. The word for the natural downhill slide into wimpiness is called sarcopenia. The natural journey of old guys into sarcopenia can be arrested and even reversed with regular, systematic, and strenuous exercise. There are a whole host of other health benefits that come from exercise as well as muscle strength that will be key to my feeling well and accomplishing a lot in ministry and life in general as I get older.

With all the benefits of exercise it seems like everyone would be highly motivated to make exercise a daily part of their life, but the fact is very few do. Establishing a daily exercise routine that is long enough and strenuous enough to reverse the average reduction in physical fitness requires a high level of self-control. Our flesh hates exercise and is addicted to recliners, television, snacks, comfort, and living the easy life. Maintaining an exercise routine probably takes more discipline than dieting does.

The key to daily, routine, and strenuous exercise for me is the goals that I set. I will read them every day and share them with others to hold me accountable to be faithful to them.

Goal #11 I will ride a stationary bicycle at least one hour three days every week. I will try and maintain a heart rate of 120 bpm while I am riding. There are circumstances where I will not have a stationary bicycle available and on those days I will walk fast. I will keep very accurate records of this discipline and will maintain a high degree of accountability to others to keep from getting lazy on this essential discipline.

Goal #12 – I will lift weights using the “Strong Lifts 5X5” program two times each week. I struggle to maintain faithfulness to this goal, so I will get others to lift with me.

Goal #13 – I will maintain my body weight at or below 200 lbs. This is such an important goal in achieving my desire to run the race with endurance until the end of my life that I will use every means possible to succeed.

Goal #14 – I have observed that the foods that I eat have a significant influence on my mood, my sense of well being, my energy, and my health in general. I will eliminate as much as possible all refined sugar, wheat products, and other foods that I learn of that contribute to my wimpiness. I will make exceptions occasionally for celebrations. I will take a collection of food supplements and vitamins as I become convinced of their importance for my health. I will read and maintain a learner’s attitude regarding eating for health, attempting to avoid the kooky stuff that is written.

88 goals for 2036 – Bicycle goals

In yesterday’s blog I wrote out six goals that were my main ministry goals in regards to my main activity for the next 16 years, prayer. It was a combination of goals and strategy. Today I will write about my main recreational goal, bicycling, though I do a lot of study, listening to sermons and writing sermons on the trip, so I call it a study break!

I am going to go on three BHAG bicycle trips, that is Big, Hairy, Audacious, Goal trips, one every four years, and then shorter ( around 2,000 miles) trips in the years in between each of the BHAG’s. So I will do 16 bicycle trips, three long ones and thirteen shorter ones.

Goal #7 – We (myself and whoever decides to go with me) will ride coast to coast on what is known as the “TransAmerica” route. It will begin in Yorktown, Virginia and end at Newport, Oregon, a total of about 4,000 miles. It will take approximated 80 days including rest days. It will probably be without a support vehicle because it is so much more expensive of a trip with a vehicle. At this point I am not exactly sure on the dates, but I am aiming for April through June of 2022.

Goal #8- We will ride from Portland, Maine to Portland, Oregon hitting all lower 48 States in route. This will be a 6,000 mile trip taking 100 days including rest days. I am aiming for 2026, April through July 10th as the dates for this monster trip. It will probably be a self-contained trip with no support vehicle.

Goal #9 – We will ride from the tip of Florida to Fairbanks, Alaska, another 6,000 miles trip also taking 100 days. I am putting it on the calendar for April through the middle July in 2030. I will be 82 years old so it should be a challenge. Goals 7, 8, and 9 can be in any order.

Goal #10 – We will go on thirteen bicycle trips that will be around 2,000 miles each. We will try to make these supported with a vehicle and possibly I will see if I can get Patty to go on some. These will be spaced out between the long trips and planned the winter before the trip.

88 goals for 2036

A goal that I write to accomplish in one week is small and very precise, like a “todo“ list item, “get a haircut.” A goal that I write to accomplish in 16 years is much longer, complicated, and more like a purpose statement.

Goal #1. I will make prayer the growing emphasis of my life and ministry as I progress towards the end of my life and ministry.

Theology, rationale and strategy for implementing.

Luke 2:36-37 And there was a prophetess, Anna the daughter of Phanuel. . . .then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple, serving night and day with fastings and prayers.

James 5:16-18 The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months. Then he prayed again, and the sky poured rain and the earth produced its fruit.

John 15:7-8 If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples.

Goal #2 – I will remind myself daily that no activity that I could be doing will have the impact on the health and growth of JBC as much as prayer will. As I get antsy about wanting to be more hands-on involved I will need to emphasize this to myself often in order to stay happy and fulfilled. To help grow my faith in the power of prayer I will memorize 100 verses on the power and promises of prayer at the rate of 10 new ones each year.

– prayer is very low on what is required in physical strength and energy, so this will be the perfect growing ministry for an aging pastor.

Goal #3 – I will gradually grow in the time that I spend in private prayer, and will aim to be spending at least three full hours in private, concerted prayer every day by my 80th birthday, and 5 hours a day by my 88th birthday.

Goal #4 – I will work at starting, organizing, and leading corporate prayer times, both regular, weekly prayer times and special prayer events. I will gradually grow in my corporate prayer involvement and will aim to be praying for 500 hours a year by my 80th birthday, and 888 hours by my 88th birthday.

-I will work at teaching, motivating, and recruiting more and more people from JBC to be involved in corporate prayer times.

Goal #5- There are many good books written on the theology of prayer and the practical implementation of prayer in a church, as well as many good sermons and pod casts on prayer. I will read three books each year and listen to ten sermons each year on prayer in order to keep my faith and passion hot, and to learn new methods and techniques to lead, motivate, and encourage prayer in our church. I will adjust this goal as appropriate in the days ahead.

Goal #6- The most important area of my prayer life is my prayer with Patty. This last year we prayed about two times each week. I will increase that to a “for sure” three times a week this next year for 15 minutes minimum each time and increase by one time each year and add 5 additional minutes of time per prayer time each year. By my 80th birthday we will be praying an hour each day, seven days each week.

2036

I have made up my mind, I am going to write my long range goals to the year 2036, 16 years from now when I will be 88 years old. I think I will write 88 goals that I will aim to accomplish by the time I celebrate my 88th birthday. Many of the goals that I write will be much more of a purpose statement in that they will establish a priority and emphasis of my life more than a specific accomplishment. By reading my long range goals every week minimum I will stay focused on what my priorities are for my life.

I will get all 88 long range goals clearly written down by April 1st, 2021. That is 88 days into the new year, plus a couple of extra days to be sure I get it done. I will pray everyday during this time and ask God for wisdom so that I can think clearly on what my priorities should be for the rest of my life. I will also ask for wisdom so that I will be able to express in writing what the desires of my heart are. I will pray and ask God to guide me into His perfect plan for my life, and that I will be able to discern exactly what He has planned for me to do with my life for Him.

I know that a key way that God guides and directs my life is by putting His will in me, and that I can identify what that will is by the desires that I have, the dreams, and often obsessions that pop into my head and heart. The most important tool for me to use in discerning what is driving me is writing. The more time I spend writing down my thoughts, dreams, ideas, and desires the clearer His voice becomes in my heart. I imagine the writing that I do is like panning for gold. The gold panning process separates a lot of worthless dirt from the very valuable gold. Gold panning is very tedious and back breaking work, but the results when done right is a huge monetary reward.

When I get this all done I will have a manuscript of the priorities of the rest of my life. I will have a portrait of myself done with words, not paint. I will have the mental fuel that will motivate me to work hard and press on for the prize at the end of the race. This manuscript will keep me from slowing down and getting lazy and casual at the end of my life.

Key People in our Lives

When I was 13 years old I went to Summer Camp, and the counselor for my cabin of 8 boys was a young single guy who’s name was Mr Titus. The counselors had what they called “Camp names, ” so I don’t remember if that was his real name or his camp name. He must have been around 20 years old because I do remember him saying that he had just finished his second year of college. He brought with him to camp a box of brand new, leather-covered Bibles and said that he would give one to any boy who would commit to reading it every day for the next year and reading through the entire Bible in the year. I remember thinking that reading the Bible all the way through was going to be a formidable task but the offer of a nice Bible for free was more than I could resist, so I made the commitment and took on the task. I faithfully kept the commitment of reading every day and reading every page, chapter, and verse in the Bible. I was 13 years old then and 72 today, and I have read the Bible through at least once every year since. I am now a man of “The Book, ” the a Bible has shaped and influenced every area of my life. When I get to heaven I am going to find Mr. Titus, and tell him thank you!

When I was 12 years old and in the sixth grade my teacher’s name was Mrs. Williams. On the very first day of class she got a TV hooked up to an antennae in our class and we watched a lot of the 1960 Summer Olympics for the next two weeks of class. A highlight for me was watching Cassius Clay, who eventually changed his name to Mohammad Ali, easily win the gold medal in the light heavyweight class.

Mrs. Williams had a collection of paperback novels, about 30 books, written by Bernard Palmer for young boys, called the “Danny Orlis” books. In the series, Danny Orlis was a high school-aged boy who grew up in the “Lake of the Woods” in upper Minnesota, hunting, fishing, and having many adventures. He was a committed Christian and dealt with all the temptations, challenges, and experiences in his life using principles from the Bible. Mrs. Williams offered to give anyone who read one book in the series each week an “A” in Reading. I liked to read and jumped at a chance to get an easy “A” for doing something that I loved doing. The lessons in those books still pop into my thinking as I write sermons today, and they have influenced my decisions in life ever since. When I get to heaven I am going to find Mrs Williams and tell her thank you!

I am sure there are many other people who have had a major, positive influence in my life. When I get my new, glorified body in heaven, I will remember who they all are, and I will tell them all thank you for their part in making me the person I will be in character in heaven.

We all have had many people who have had a positive influence in our lives, if possible we need to tell them “thank you” now, and not just wait until we get to heaven.

Leaving

It is so much fun visiting family that live far away that we only get to see occasionally. The week that we have been up here in Fairbanks has been so enjoyable. But tomorrow we head back home and I can already feel myself getting melancholy with the thoughts of leaving. At this stage in our life it seems like we are always leaving somebody, and then struggling with the sadness of separation. It seems like with so many kids it would become routine and a piece of cake, the whole coming and going thing, but not so far. I think it is an old age thing because it is getting more difficult, at least more emotional. I never let on how I am feeling and try just to be the tough grandpa.

In John 14 Jesus says He is leaving, but that He is coming back to receive us to Himself and then He will never leave us or us Him, ever again, eternity with Him. That is only possible because He came into the world as a baby, as an embryo in Mary’s womb, grew, lived a perfect life, then died in our place, paying the penalty of our sins. Eternal life is a free gift, but we must receive it personally because we realize that we can’t earn it on our own. So many people don’t understand this, they just ignore Jesus, the result being life will be bad, and eternity will be worse, that is sad.