A Good Wife

Patty and I went out to dinner tonight using a hundred-dollar gift card she received for her birthday from the ladies in her Bible study. We had never been to the restaurant before, it was called the Sybaris Bistro on First Street in Albany. We had a lovely time in a nice restaurant with great food. It was a very relaxing evening spent visiting with my beautiful wife of 54 years.

It was one of those times when as Patty was talking I was thinking and remembering the highlights of our past 54 years of marriage. As I was thinking about dozens of events in our past, I felt a growing sense of gratitude to the Lord for His incredible blessing to me of Patty, our marriage, our kids, our growing family, and our ministry. There is very little of all that I have been blessed with from the Lord that I can take credit for. It is truly the sovereign work and gift from God in my life. Why He has chosen to bless me to the degree that He has I have no clue. I know many people and know about many who have accomplished much more than I have and grown more in character than I have who’s lives are marked by tribulations and trials, and they have few of my blessings. I often wonder about that mystery.

I realize that there is a blessing that God gives as a reward for the right living and a godly lifestyle. Still, even that in my life is primarily the result of good parents, teachers, Pastors, youth pastors, camp counselors, and friends over the years that God chose and placed into my life at the perfect times. I am a recipient of God’s blessings, a product of His sovereign and wise maneuvering in my life. As I thought tonight about all of that, I felt very grateful, as well as humbled. I thought how terrible it would be if I were to take credit for where I am now in my life. I know I have, and I probably have more than I can remember or realize. I whispered a prayer under my breath to the Lord, asking Him to forgive me of all my pride and help me walk humbly with my God.

Of all my blessings from God, probably none are more significant than Patty.

I Will Give You More

I am a steward of what God has given me, and if I am a faithful steward, He will give me more. Matthew 25:21 says, “His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things;” I am a steward of the money He has given me, of my talents, gifts, and abilities, I am a steward of the time He has given me, and the opportunities. The ultimate stewardship item is people, I get the opportunity to teach, mentor, and shepherd people. In Luke 16:11 Jesus says, “Therefore if you have not been faithful in the use of unrighteous wealth, who will entrust the true riches to you?” True riches I would see as people, so if I don’t steward money well God won’t entrust me with people. One of the more difficult things to be a faithful steward of is our time. Ephesians 5:15-16 “Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil.” I want to make good use of my time to accomplish more with my life, but I also want to be a good steward of my time because I am earning the right from God to be given responsibility over more people. I want to be a good steward so that I get more and more and more.

On the Bench or in the Game

On Monday and Tuesday, our church hosted a leadership seminar for pastors and church leaders. There were about 50 who were here, and one pastor came from as far away as Texas. I taught about four hours each day, and then other people in JBC also shared. Those who taught from our church did a fantastic job of preparing their messages and delivering them, and I am sure that the excellent report we got from those who attended was because of all the other speakers other than me.

It is always very enjoyable to put on an event like this knowing that those who came were encouraged, motivated, and learned a lot. It is fulfilling to do something that is significant in God’s scheme of things. In High School and College I sat on the bench most of my basketball career, getting to play only when we were way ahead or way behind. I did not enjoy that experience and often thought that my coaches were blind to my talent and ability. It is one thing to be on the bench in basketball, but I don’t want to be on the bench in my service to God, and today was a great experience of being in the game, and our church being in the game.

I was totally done in and tired out after the seminar this afternoon, but it was a very good feeling being tired from doing a good work for the Lord, the church, and for others.

Watching Sporting Events

When our eight kids were in High School and college my greatest enjoyment in life was attending and watching their games. I would yell until I could hardly talk, and I would pray for the ones who were playing asking God to bless them and give them strength. When they were in College Sam and Seth played basketball at Multnomah Bible College and Shelly and Hanna played volleyball. I don’t how many times we drove to Portland to watch games, but it was a lot. When the kids got out of college I started watching basketball and football on television. I am very conscious of wasting time so I don’t watch a lot, once and sometimes twice a week. I have my favorite NFL teams, NBA teams, and college teams.

Hebrews 12:1-4 seems to suggest a stadium where spectators are watching a track meet. It illustrates running the race of life faithfully and with endurance. The point being that watching sporting events appears to have been a regular part of the culture in Jesus and Paul’s lives. I enjoy watching my favorite teams play and rooting for them as I watch.

Paul used sporting events as illustrations for numerous spiritual lessons and truths in the Bible, and as I watch games it is easy to see all kinds of character traits and practices that are obvious keys to winning in football and in life.

Character traits like endurance, diligence, self-control, patience and faithfulness are a just a few of the qualities that winners have. Almost all of the various illustrations in the Bible using sporting events suggest that the pursuit of goals is a major part of accomplishing great things with our life.

Well now, I think that I will watch the NFL playoffs and the a super Bowl with new purpose and interest.

We Won!

I am a Jacksonville Jaguars fan because I am a Trevor Lawerance fan. Trevor Lawerance is a Christian, and he has an amazing character for a 23-year-old. He is a great leader of people, and he is a very intelligent communicator. I thoroughly enjoy listening to his interviews because his character comes through so clearly. Tonight was the first round of the NFL playoff games and the Jaguars won. They were down 27 to zero and came back to win the game. It was an amazing comeback, especially in light of how terrible they played in the first half. It is 12:30 and I am to sleepy to think of anything else to write.

Friends

A lot of men don’t have any close friends. The Bible makes having friends very important. Having friends, close friends is like getting married in that when I wanted to get married, I was on the hunt; I was looking for a godly wife who would be a fun companion and someone who would bring great joy into my life. So I looked and I dated and once I had made up my mind I put her in my sights and courted her.

The first thing a guy has to do to have friends is to recognize how important good friends are. If the value of friends is foggy, they won’t exert the effort required to have friends. Then take the first step, take the initiative, and pursue a close relationship with someone that has character, encourages you, that you encourage, that is transparent, and has a close friendship with Jesus.

To maintain friendships the basic principles of our Christian faith must be practiced faithfully;

1. Forgive quickly. A proneness toward a judgmental attitude, bitterness, anger, resentment, and hurt feelings makes maintaining a friendship almost impossible. Nobody owes you anything, you have to earn it.

2. Be a servant. A real friend looks for opportunities to meet a need in the life of his friends. He sees them easily, acts quickly and doesn’t expect to be rewarded.

3. Be gracious and accepting of differences. Everybody has opinions about everything under the sun, and very few people have the same opinions about anything. Discussions and conversations about life, principles, events, values, and opinions are enjoyable, but it is easy to cross the line to becoming argumentative, and then friendships can be lost quickly. The question to ask ourselves is, “ what is more important to me, being right or having friends,” rarely can you have them both.

There are nine more on my list of basic principles on healthy relationships, but you can probably figure them out. Just ask the question, “how do I like to be treated? and then treat others that way. They are all in the Bible.,

Get Your Reward now or in Heaven

Matthew 6:1 beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise, you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven.

Can you imagine standing before Jesus at the Judgment seat and He is looking in His book about your life, and He says, “Oh that is a good work deserving a nice reward! Oops there is a note by it that says you already got your reward from the people you were trying to impress, to bad.” Then he says it again and again and again and again. . . Then Jesus gets to the end of the book on your life, and your hands are empty; too bad, so sad. You can get your rewards now or you can get them in heaven from Jesus. The big difference is that rewards that we get in this life don’t last long but the rewards we get from Jesus in heaven last for eternity.

It is a good idea to think about what motivates us. We were created by God with glory and majesty, His glory and majesty, but we lost it the first time we sinned. The result is that we all have a huge hole inside of us and we crave glory. We can attempt to fill it with praise from people or wait until we stand before Jesus and have Him give us glory and honor for what we have done for Him with our life. We are all pulled very hard by our flesh to be people pleasers because of our hunger for the glory we lost, and we have to constantly work on our motives and guard our hearts.

My Protector

Psalms 57:2-3 I will cry to God Most High,
To God who accomplishes all things for me.
He will send from heaven and save me;
He reproaches him who tramples upon me.

My adversary in life is the devil and his demons. Their goal is to get me to sin, to dishonor God by the way I talk, to love the world, to keep from making a difference in the world, and to try and take all my joy and peace out of my life. I can cry to God most high, my heavenly father, my creator, my savior and He will protect me and drive the devil and his dogs away.

When I was in the sixth grade there was a kid named Fred Zea. He must have flunked several grades because he was a great big kid and he was a bully. This was in about 1960 when we took our lunch to school in a brown paper bag or a lunch box with the Lone Ranger on the outside. Fred discovered that I brought sandwiches in my lunch made by my Mom that was homemade bread with sliced roast beef, so he took my sandwiches and sometimes took my whole lunch. I told my Mom what he was doing and she said, “well we will fix him.” I was excited to see what form the vengeance my Mom had in mind would take. The next morning she gave me two lunch bags and one of them had Fred’s name on it. I asked her what she was doing, and she said, “The Bible says to feed your enemies and to do good to them.” She instructed me to give the extra lunch to Fred and not to do it with a bad attitude. Good grief, that seemed impossible! But I did what I was instructed to do, and Fred became my protector. Nobody in the entire Junior High building messed with me or talked trash to me, or Fred would beat them up. It was nice not to worry about anybody trying to steal my marbles or my comic books, good ole Fred.

Set Backs

We all make plans for the day, for the week, some of us make plans for the month and even the year. When something comes up unexpectantly and messes with those plans, especially big ones and important ones, we get frustrated and sometimes even angry or in more serious set backs depressed. Learning to cope with those nasty little inconveniences, to possibly solve the problem so that they go away, or make a mid-flight adjustment, so we continue with the plans with some differences, is a significant part of growing in character and wisdom. Thinking back on those events in our life, especially the recent ones is a very good way to practice self-evaluation on our character level and growth. Doing that self-evaluation with paper and pencil is much more accurate than wondering around in our memory trying to figure it out.

My grandson and I are restoring a 1969 mustang, and when we finish it, it will be his car. I have had an enjoyable time working on it with him. We rebuilt the engine in it, which is a 250 ci inline six-cylinder engine. I built an engine stand, and we put it on it with a radiator and working gauges. We let it run for quite a few hours with break-in oil. I had a stainless steel corrugated hose that fits onto the exhaust pipe; I ran the end of the flexible pipe outside so we wouldn’t die from an overdose of carbon monoxide. The engine ran great and sounded super good. About six months ago we put it into the car. I have been working on the electrical in the car and was down to just needing to finish the gauges on the dash. I got everything to work good except the oil pressure gauge. I changed gauges, I wired it different, I called the company that I bought the gauges from to make sure I wired it right. Nothing seemed to work and I was getting super frustrated. I assumed the oil pump in the engine was pumping oil because it had been before. But I thought, maybe, for some reason, that oil pump isn’t working. I put a fitting in the hole in the side of the engine block where the sending unit was screwed in and fastened a four-foot length of clear, plastic hose on the fitting. I started the engine and no oil was coming out the hose, zero. I shut the engine off quick and was grateful that in all my starting of the engine to test the oil pressure gauge that I had never let it run more than a couple of seconds.

So, my oil pump is not working. So now the main question is why? I am assuming that while putting the engine into the car something happened. I don’t what or what exactly is broken. Thursday I will have time and I will figure it out. I have worked out my plan of attack in my head and I know what I am going to do and how I will figure out the problem. I even have a new oil pump that I bought for the car by accident because I had forgotten that I had already bought one.

So, how did I do with this set back. These kinds of situations are the hardest to deal with because it is usually because of some stupid, idiotic decision that I made, and that is tough to take with all the heckling that I will get from guys in the church.

So, I want to grow in this situation. How do I do that? I will Write out in detail what I did and what I am going to do about it. I will write about my reactions at the most difficult times and evaluate my level of maturity and make a commitment to do better next time

Pressing on to Righteousness

When you have a clear understanding of God’s desire for you to be holy like He is, and at the same time you faithfully practice the basic discipline of self-examination and confession of your sin, you will arrive at a place in your life where you have a sense of urgency about growing and at the same time you will be relaxed and have a freedom from the fear of messing up which results in a great sense of peace and joy. It is a nice place to be in your thinking and attitude as you live life with purpose and drive. A person who lives life in the world that we are now in, in the midst of turmoil and uncertainty with great joy, peace, and security is rare, but as Christians it ought be normal. It is that confident living mixed with graciousness and humility, in the midst of storms that attracts people to our faith. God gives us strength and He forgives us our sins, and He plans and directs our steps, but we must choose everyday to pick up our cross and follow Him. It is the life Jesus invites us to live when He says, “take My yoke upon you.” A yoke is hard work, but then He says, “my yoke is easy.” The Christian life is a great paradox between easy and hard, between sacrifice and reward, between giving and receiving, and between dying to self and living for Christ. It begins with the cross, with the dying to self, with the huge effort, and then it moves to victory, power, and much fruit and glory.