Good Medicine

Proverbs 17:22 A joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones.

Over the past decade, an entire industry has sprouted up promising the secrets to happiness. There are best-selling books like “The Happiness Project.“ There is an online course called, “The science of happiness” that teaches you how to be happy.

I was personally convinced that our level of happiness went hand-in-hand with how many fish we caught! 😀

Research is validating Proverbs 17:22 by showing that happiness and good health go hand-in-hand. Scientific studies have found that happiness can make our hearts healthier, our immune systems more robust, happy people live longer, happy people have less stress, happy people have fewer aches and pains, and happy people make other people happy.

As adults become older they usually become more frail, which is characterized by impaired strength, endurance, and balance. In a 2004 study, over 1,550 Mexican Americans ages 65 and older rated how much self-esteem, hope, happiness, and enjoyment they felt over the past week. After seven years, the participants with more positive emotion ratings were less likely to be frail. Some of the same researchers also found that happier older adults were less likely to have a stroke.

One of the things that the Bible teaches is that happiness is a choice. We can choose to grumble and complain about life or we can choose to rejoice always, our actions then influence our emotions. Most people are happy or sad as a result of the circumstances and conditions of their life. We can’t control most of the events that happen to us each day so many feel like victims. They aren’t sure who to blame for their rotten life so they often blame God.

One of the most powerful factors in the level of happiness that we generally feel is a positive expectation of of a better tomorrow. Christians who think a lot about heaven and are expecting to be there soon are usually noticeable happier than those who are anticipating more problems and trials and live life dreading the next day.

The most often given command in the Bible is to praise and worship God for all that He has done for us. Those who choose to do that regardless of the amount of sunshine in their life not only feel happier, but God blesses them by putting His joy in their heart.

God calls Christians to attract spiritually lost people to Him. The most attractive people are those who are happy. Our level of happiness in spite of life validates our faith in Jesus.

Motives

Proverbs 16:2 All the ways of a man are clean in his own sight,
But the Lord weighs the motives.

1 Corinthians 4:5 Therefore do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men’s hearts; and then each man’s praise will come to him from God.

Philippians 1:17 the former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition rather than from pure motives,

James 4:3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.

People can do really good things with all the wrong motives. People can look like super saints on the outside, but their motives are all messed up. We can pray with wrong motives. We can tell people about Jesus with the wrong motives. People can give away large sums of money with totally wrong motives.

I don’t know what people’s motives are when they serve in our church, when they teach Sunday School to fifth grade boys, when they give money to the special offering, when they go to Africa with our short term missions team, when they pray five hours each day during our “Five Day Prayer” event. Nobody knows what someone else’s motives are. The Bible says that are motives are hidden in the deep darkness of our heart. A very sad truth is that most people don’t even know what their own motives are. One of my personal sayings is, “I can do all the right things for all the wrong reasons and not even know it.”

But God knows what our motives are, and the Bible says that someday at the “Judgment Seat of Christ“ He will disclose the motives of men’s hearts.

2 Corinthians 5:9-10 Therefore we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.

My personal desire is to please the Lord with all that I do, with all that I say, and with all that I think. For that to be true I must have pure motives. I battle that constantly because I can switch from doing what I am doing for the Lord to doing it for my own ego in a second and not be aware of it.

My job is to teach people the Bible so that they can grow in character, to counsel them so that they can have good marriages, to lead them so that they are successful in life. If I do my job well people will be appreciative and praise me, and that feels really good. It is very hard to keep my motives pure, but I must because the minute they go from pleasing God to pleasing people I loose all blessing and power from God, and then everyone pays the price.

Every morning I pray and ask God to please show me when my motives go bad.

Hard to Understand and Hard to Live

There are a number of commands in the Bible that really aren’t commands, they are principles. A command is black and white and easy to understand, but a principle is a guide line with no real absolute so you never are real sure if you have kept it or not. Many of the principles in the New Testament are hard for me to know for sure how well or not so well I am doing. It bugs the heck out of me not knowing for sure if I did what I was supposed to do or not.

One of those principles is in 2 Timothy 2:4, No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier.

I know what the verse is saying, “keep your life simple so you have time to serve the Lord and others.” But, how simple? I don’t know. I could function with 10% of what I presently own, should I downsize to that point? I don’t know. But what I do know is that the principle keeps an anchor out in my life so that I am careful as I think about purchasing anything new in my life.

Another principle is in 1 Corinthians 10:24, “Let no one seek his own good, but that of his neighbor.” I guess the first question I have is the same one asked of Jesus, “who is my neighbor?” “What is the extent of ‘good’ for my neighbor?” “What if I don’t like them?” “What if I don’t agree with them politically?”

Probably the intent of these principles and many others in the Bible is to create some tension or pressure that moves us steadily and maybe even slowly in the direction of the character and lifestyle of the principle. We probably never reach perfection but I think there will come a point in the life of someone striving to please the Lord where they will know that they have come close.

Rewarding Myself

This weekend was very full. I taught Men’s Leadership class on Saturday night at 5:30 pm and then preached Saturday night service. Sunday morning I went to a prayer meeting in the kitchen for the service on Sunday, then taught my “Lady’s Leadership” class at 8:00 am, then preached at the 9:00 am service and agIn at the 11:30 am service, then I taught my Men’s leadership class at 1:00 pm and my Leadership 2 class at 3:00 pm.

Then I went home and took a nap, watched some football and now I am sitting in my recliner eating a big bowl of popcorn as a reward to myself for a good weekend.

Life is good!

Honor Your Father and Your Mother

Mom with three of her 80 plus great-grandchildren
Dad during World War II

Deuteronomy 5:16 ‘Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God has commanded you, that your days may be prolonged and that it may go well with you on the land which the Lord your God gives you.

Ephesians 6:2 Honor your father and mother (which is the first commandment with a promise),

Mom and Dad have both died but I enjoy very much still honoring them by telling stories about their exploits, character, and influence on me. It seems that the feelings and emotions of appreciation, admiration, and love that I have toward them get stronger in me by the year.

I am thinking that the number of positive and affirming stories that I tell about Mom and Dad adds to the feelings I have for them.

The command given by God in His word to honor our Father and Mother is given in both the Old and New Testaments. It is one of the most often repeated commands in the Bible, and it is the first commandment with a reward attached as motivation.

It isn’t Mother’s Day or Father’s Day or either one of their birthdays, but the story yesterday about my Dad’s war experiences just got me in the mood for another blog about them and pictures to boot.

My Dad was a War Veteran and a Patriot

I wrote this about two years ago, shortly after my Mom died and we found some letters in her stuff that she got when my Dad died 30 years earlier. One of them was from a friend of my Dad’s who served with him through World War II. He wrote it to our family as a memorial of my Dad’ service for his country.

I thought I would share the letter from my Dad’s friend about my Dad again as a Vetrans Day salute to all veterans.

The Wasp was an aircraft carrier that Dad was on, and it sank in the Battle of Guadalcanal. This battle lasted over 6 months being fought on land by Marines and supported by numerous ships, including the Wasp. Dad spent several days in the water before being rescued.

The Yorktown, another aircraft carrier sank in the Battle of Midway, a very key battle in the war, and my Dad was on it when it sank.

The Hornet was in many battles and was the aircraft carrier that launched the “Doolittle Raid” when Tokyo was bombed for the first time in the war. It was sunk in the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands. My Dad was on it when it sank. He was on four different aircraft carriers that were sunk in battle.

One of the stories that my Dad’s friend told; “we were sitting in a gun turret which are mounted on the side of the ship under the flight deck. We were letting our gun cool off from much rapid firing, if the gun is loaded while hot the powder will ignite before the projectile is loaded. We had loaded it successfully before we decided to let it cool. While waiting a Japanese plane came in low around the ship headed right towards us, Duke stomped on the foot firing mechanism and blew that plane into little bitty pieces 200 feet from us. It was funny when it was over, but I can tell you for sure that both Duke and I thought we had bought it that day. We served together on the Hornet, the Wasp, the Yorktown, the Enterprise, the Saratoga, the North Carolina, the O’Brian and others. We spent many hours together sometimes 2 and 3 days straight through in battle at our stations. Please allow me to say and you can tell your 4 sons and your daughter that they can take great pride in being the children of Delbert Duke.”

Almost seems at times that all that my Dad did, and many others like him, was for nothing as our freedoms slip away.

I Can’t or I Can

I regularly get frustrated by my inability to do more with my life, to accomplish more, to bear more fruit for God. I am so limited by time, by available resources, and especially by energy. I stated something in my sermon this last week that is a constant “self-talk” line for myself to help me manage my frustration and my often felt guilt for not doing more. “God loved the whole world and gave His only Son, but I can only love a few at a time as He opens the door for me and provides an opportunity; my challenge is not to miss any of those God-given appointments.” The whole world in John 3:16 was not just those who were alive at the time but included me 2000 years later. He has done so much, but there is so much I can’t do, but there is a lot that I can do if I am faithful. If I am faithful, He will give me more to do, but if I am unfaithful, He will take away what I have already been given. If I am devoted to what You give me, Lord. You will provide me with the strength to do it, You will give me the time, and You will provide me with the resources.

The single most important key for me to be faithful is to write goals. My goals are my expression of what I believe is an open door provided by God. If I don’t write a goal, what I saw as a great opportunity fades away in my mind and it is soon gone.

My goal is also a prayer request for wisdom to know how to accomplish it; it is a request for strength, resources, and help from others to accomplish this task given by God. So I don’t say “I can’t,” instead I say, “I can do God’s will for my life, and I will.”

Family

This is a picture of our entire family a couple of weeks ago when everyone was here. 8 kids, 6 son-in-laws, 2 daughter-in-laws, 27 grandkids, and Patty and I. Awesome family!

Courage and Bravery

In 1918, at the 11th hour, in the 11th month, and on the 11th day, World War 1 officially ended.

In November 1919, President Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day with the following words: “To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, because of the thing from which it has freed us.

In 1954 President Eisenhower signed a bill changing Armistice Day to Veterans Day as a day to honor veterans of every war in American history for their bravery and courage in the face of the enemy who was attempting to take from us our freedoms.

Oct 19 (Reuters) – The rape of a woman aboard a Philadelphia subway witnessed by as many as ten passengers, some of whom appeared to film the attack, could have been stopped quickly if someone had called 911, police said on Tuesday.

That doesn’t sound like “the home of the brave” to me; it sounds like the land of the “chicken-hearted cowards.” I can’t imagine a situation like that where a woman is being attacked, hurt, and humiliated in a public place with ten people watching, and no one does anything.

The people in our country are being trained to be complacent, afraid, and conformists. The rapidly growing government control of the decisions of its citizens is training them to be consumers and spectators who hope things will get better someday. The recent explosion of “cancel culture” has only thrived, in part, because of the neutered agreeableness and abject fear that has become the national norm.

Whether we wear a mask or are vaccinated is really not what matters. What matters is that at some point in this journey we are on, the government will tell us that we can’t gather to worship; oh, I guess they already did that; they will say to us that we can’t witness or share the gospel, the information people need to know to believe so as not to spend the next billion years in torment in hell instead of heaven, they will tell us that we can’t own a Bible, that we can’t pray with our children or teach them about God. Not very long ago I wouldn’t have believed any of that possible in our country, and it still might not, but it certainly looks like a very real possibility and more so every day. And if it does, what are we going to do then?

Monday Night Football

A group of guys meets together on Monday nights in a shop with a big-screen TV on the wall, a cooler full of soda, carbonated water, water, and coffee, as well as fried chicken, pizza, barbecued tri-tip, chips, and candy. We do a lot of talking, fellowshipping, eating, and we watch some football as well. I enjoy watching football with friends, and I especially enjoy the camaraderie.

Neither the Pittsburgh Steelers or the Chicago Bears are in my top ten favorite NFL teams so I wasn’t watching very attentively, and at the end of the third quarter everyone went home because Pittsburgh was ahead 20 to 6, and the Bears were playing awful! Boring!

When I walked into my house Thomas had the game on and before I looked at the score I said something about the boring game, and he said, “it isn’t boring now. “ I looked at the score and could hardly believe my eyes. In the 17 minute drive back to my house the Bears scored 21 unanswered points and were in the lead! Pittsburgh kicked a field goal with 2 minutes left and won the game by 2 points, but not before Chicago tried a 65-yard field goal with 2 seconds left in the game.

A lot of effort, time, planning, and money go into winning football games. Winning is fun. My kids played sports all through Junior High, High school, and College, and Patty and I missed very few of their games over 20 years, and we would yell and scream and pray that they would win.

The Bible talks about winning in life and uses sports as an illustration;

1 Corinthians 9:24 Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win.

Hebrews 12:1 let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,

For us as Christians, winning isn’t beating someone, it is finishing the race well, having followed Jesus faithfully, having served Him well, bearing much fruit, growing in our character, and glorifying Him with our life.

2 Timothy 4:6-8 the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day;

We will all stand before Jesus at the end of our life and give an accounting of our life. Some will receive many rewards and crowns and some will receive nothing.

Many believers are like the Chicago Bears, it is getting close to the end of the game, and it is time to start thinking seriously about winning.

By the way, you are invited to watch football with me on Monday nights.