Don’t Ignore the Truth

Psalms 107:27-30 They reeled and staggered like a drunken man,
and were at their wits’ end. Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
and He brought them out of their distresses. He caused the storm to be still, so that the waves of the sea were hushed. Then they were glad because they were quiet, so He guided them to their desired haven.

This particular Psalm is a prophecy of an event in the life of Christ. There are many such prophecies in the Psalms most of them being around a thousand years before the birthdate of Jesus.

This particular prophecy is about when Jesus was in the boat with His disciples and a big storm came up and He calmed the sea. If you diligently study the Psalms you will discover many that are an obvious prophecy of Jesus.

The fact that most of the Psalms were written a thousand years before the events in the life of Christ is irrefutable. Why would a person not do some reading about the life of Jesus Christ in the gospels with that kind of evidence that Jesus actually lived and was who He said He was, God’s son, the one who saves us from our sins. Eternity is a long time and heaven is a gift to those who believe in Jesus Christ.

A Prideful Person

Proverbs 29:23 A man’s pride will bring him low, but a humble spirit will obtain honor.

The warning to pursue humility and conquer pride is repeated probably at least a hundred times in Scripture. It is a huge deal to God. I work at it a lot, and I constantly evaluate my actions, words, thoughts, and especially my motives for pride. One of the things about pride is that it is very subtle and hard to detect in ourselves. There are certain events that, if they happen to me, I pay close attention to myself and how I react as a test to help me see the pride in my heart. I will journal about the circumstances and details of the event to attempt to see myself and my character accurately.

One of the things that happens to me regularly is that I will get criticism and resistance against a leadership decision I make or teaching that I give. It is not usually a big thing, but it definitely requires some discussion and negotiation on my part. As I think about the situation later and write about it I ask the question, “how did I do?”

Another situation is when I fail to accomplish a goal. Failure is a real pride aggravator, and if pride is hiding in my heart failure will bring it right to the top.

Another situation is when I don’t get the recognition that I think I deserve. That will tend to go around in my head for days until I conqueror it.

I truly want to be humble in character and attitude because I know it is important to God and also because I value it in others and I want humility in my own life.

I pray and ask God daily to help me conqueror pride in my life and to show me when I become prideful.

I Don’t Feel Like Praying

Proverbs 29:8 says if a person doesn’t read the Bible that their prayer is an abomination to God. Yikes! That is a pretty strong statement by King Solomon. There are eleven more reasons given in the Bible for why God doesn’t answer our prayers, and in fact doesn’t even listen to them. If those reasons exist in our life and God is not answering or listening to our prayers, we know it in our hearts. Something in us feels that our prayers aren’t accomplishing much. If we sense that God is not answering our prayers we won’t pray much. It is sort of like continuing to talk on our cell phone after we realize that we have been cut off on our phone conversation because of poor service.

If it were me feeling unmotivated to pray I would figure out why and fix it. Apathy towards prayer is an unhealthy place to be, and we don’t want to stay there, but many do.

A Coon in our Bedroom

We had some excitement tonight. I let our dog, Roscoe out to go potty, and pretty soon I heard him growling and barking and then I heard him yelping in pain. I went to the door to see what was going on and Roscoe came running into our room with a coon right behind him. Then they started fighting right in the middle of our bedroom, and Roscoe was losing badly. I have a collection of canes behind my recliner and I grabbed the biggest one and started clubbing the coon on the head and he ran under our bed. Roscoe jumped up on our bed with Patty barking non-stop and very loud (that is Roscoe barking, not Patty) . Roscoe then jumped down and in a fit of bravery went under the bed after the coon and chased him out and I started in again whacking him as hard as I could on the head with my cane. I think the coon got annoyed with me because he ran out the door and climbed the tree by the back of our house. I was going to shoot him with my shotgun, but I decided to go to bed instead. Roscoe has a few coon bites but I think he is doing alright and getting ready for his next coon fight.

Why Read the Bible?

The goal is to read the Bible everyday. A key reason is so that it becomes a habit. If you read three times a week you will be blessed by your time in the Word but three times a week won’t ever become a habit. Once Bible reading has become a habit you won’t even need a goal anymore, your Bible reading will be like brushing your teeth.

A great way to motivate yourself to read every day is to write down all of the blessings that come into our life when we do read the Bible. Write them down on a piece of poster paper and hang them up where you can see them easily during the day and read them faithfully. Let me give you a half dozen Bible blessings. I have found and written down 50 blessings that come into our life when we faithfully read the Bible, but I will just give you six.

1. Reading the Bible makes our mind strong and healthy.

2. Reading the Bible makes our soul strong and healthy resulting in us becoming confident and free from worry.

3. Faithfully reading the Bible gives us wisdom, we will know what to do and say in any situation we find ourselves in.

4. Reading the Bible results in success in the things we are trying to do.

5. Reading the Bible results in us overcoming entrenched sin habits.

6. Reading the Bible results in greater levels of joy in spite of the circumstances.

The Power of Sports

When I was 12 years old my Dad retired from the Navy and we bought our first farm. It was a pretty basic and simple farm. Among all the animals that we had we had six milk cows. The milk we got from them we ran through a hand crank seperator, sold the cream to a local creamery and fed the skim milk to our pigs. It was my job to milk by hand two of the cows before and after school and help Dad separate the milk. Because of the strength that I got in my hands and forearms from milking two cows twice a day I was the champion on the monkey bars of all the boys from the fifth grade up through the eighth grade. I think of all the sports that I was involved in growing up the monkey bars is the only thing I really excelled at. Oh yeah, I used to whip everybody in marbles too.

Though I never did very well in any sport I went out for everything and worked very hard in practice. I was determined to become the best at something. Through High School I wrestled, played basketball, ran track and cross country, in college I played basketball and baseball, and was mostly a reserve spending most of my time on the bench. It wasn’t until after I graduated from college, was married and farming that I finally became a champion.

Our little community of Trout Lake, Washington had an annual fair. Klickitat county had the county fair in Goldendale, but all the dairy cows in the county were in Trout Lake so we held the annual Dairy Show in Trout Lake, and it developed into quite the country fair. We had a greased pig chase, a lamb riding contest, porcupine races, ax throwing, cross cut saw competition, and a variety of other unique contests. One of them was a three-man tug-of-war contest. My brother and brother-in-law and I formed a team. There were a number of teams, and we probably pulled four or five times before we got to the championship pull against the Clark boys. They were at least twice as heavy as we were. The pull lasted for a long time because we dug holes with our boots, laid down and just hung on. After awhile they got tired and we easily pulled them across the line. Our prize was a six-pack of warm Nesbitt’s Orange soda pop.

Even though it has been many years ago I often think about the hours and hours of after-school practice times, the hours-long bus rides to games, the disappointment of not playing much, and the frustration of losing again. Sports was a major factor in my character development as a kid and as a young man. Managing my pride and self-talk so that I always worked as hard as I could even though it was usually in vain. Sincerely celebrating the success of others who were playing while I watched from the bench. Mentally dealing with the trash talk and put-downs that I usually received from those who played a lot and were better than I was.

Now I am 74 years old and I often think, life is funny, a mystery, God, indeed, worked all things together for my character development to make me as much like Jesus as possible.

Why Don’t You Pray More?

Around us is a spiritual war being fought. It is a war between the angels of God and the demons of satan. Whoever is winning the war controls the affairs of the world and the people on it. God has set things up in such a way that we, the church are the determining factor of who is winning the war. When we pray God commissions angels and energizes them, and the more we pray the more angels get sent into the war and the more power they have to fight. When there are a lot of highly energized angels fighting against the kingdom of darkness, the Word of God spreads rapidly, unhindered, and the church prevails. That is why a great prayer movement preceded every revival. The story of Moses holding his hands up to win a battle being fought in front of him is a picture of us praying. When we pray we win, but when we don’t pray we lose.

Exodus 17:8-13 Then Amalek came and fought against Israel at Rephidim. So Moses said to Joshua, “Choose men for us and go out, fight against Amalek. Tomorrow I will station myself on the top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand.” Joshua did as Moses told him, and fought against Amalek; and Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. So it came about when Moses held his hand up, that Israel prevailed, and when he let his hand down, Amalek prevailed. But Moses’ hands were heavy. Then they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it; and Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side and one on the other. Thus his hands were steady until the sun set. So Joshua overwhelmed Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword.

The devil knows this truth, so he fears prayer by the church; he has no defense against it. The devil can’t put thoughts directly into our minds, but he and his demons can talk to us, and we hear them subliminally. He says, “don’t pray, it won’t do any good, it is a waste of time, God won’t listen to you, you are too busy right now, you can pray tomorrow, let the pastor pray, that’s his job.” They are persistent rascals and they absolutely don’t want you to pray so they will jabber and nag non-stop, and we let them win the battle for our minds and then for our wills.

Getting people in our church to pray sacrificially and diligently is one of the most challenging things I do as a pastor. I guess a better way to put it is getting most people to pray sacrificially and diligently is impossible.

When people make excuses and justify not praying they don’t realize that they are letting the devil win and that his winning is going to get easier as we habitually become a people of little, easy, and comfortable prayer. And as he continues to win things in our world and culture are going to get worse and worse. We wring our hands and think if only the republicans were in control, if only we had a different president, if only. . .if only. The truth is that if we don’t pray very much the devil will control whatever party is in power and he will control whoever is president. We don’t just need elections to change things we need prayer, lots of it.

Five Days of Prayer has Started

It is Monday the first day of the “Five Days of Prayer.” we have four of these a year, one right before Christmas, another right before Easter, a third in February for our foreign missions ministry, and this one for all of our ministries at JBC.

When each one is over I am exhausted from lack of sleep, but after a couple of days I can hardly wait until the next one. I experience such a powerful and real sense of the presence of God and it has a profound but difficult to describe affect on my inner person, on my faith level. I grow in my sensitivity to His prompting in my daily decision-making. I become more convicted over sins, smaller sins. I seem to get wiser in my dealings with people. I grow in my desire to give more money to the Lord and His work. And my desire to read and memorize His Word goes up. It isn’t a huge amount of growth and change but it is noticeable, and with four in a year, twenty days of sitting at Jesus feet I get excited about who I am becoming.

I almost always get in 40 hours of praying during each of the five days of prayer, but this time, because of other events that I need to go to, I will be fortunate to get in 30 hours. That makes me feel short-changed and cheated.

I truly believe that it is the corporate nature of the five days of prayer that makes it so special, so powerful. We have a good number of people who devote ten hours of prayer or more during the five days. They have become effectual, powerful prayers. They pray with conviction, with passion, and with very obvious faith. Sitting in the prayer room listening to them pray for hours is a spiritual treat that blesses my heart.

I wonder why there are so many Christians who don’t seem to get from the prayer room what I do. They rarely come and if they do they rarely pray out loud.

Discipline Goals

If you went to the dentist and he told you that your teeth were terrible and that you were going to need to have them all pulled and get dentures unless you started brushing and flossing three times a day, you might consider making a goal to do just that. That goal would be what I call a “discipline goal,” one that you repeat on a regular basis. The goal of the discipline goal is to establish a habit. I don’t make a goal to brush my teeth because I always brush my teeth and have since I was a little kid, it is an established habit. Many of the goals that I set each year I don’t need to set because I always do them and have for years. They are an established habit. The reason that I do is that I teach goal setting to those in my leadership classes and to others that I am coaching or disciplining. I use my goals as an example to help others know what good goals look like.

1. I will read 12 chapters in my Bible everyday.

2. I will pray by myself for 30 minutes everyday.

3. I will ride my stationary bicycle one hour every day.

4. I will pray for everybody in JBC every week.

5. I will pray my prayer of dedication every morning.

6. I will pray with Patty at least three times each week.

7. I will read at least 10 pages in a good book every day.

8. I will write a blog post of approximately 300 words daily.

I have 25 goals that are “discipline goals. Many of my discipline goals are fixed, that is I probably won’t ever change them because I like them right where they are. Twelve chapters a day in my Bible is about right for me. There is only so much time in a day so a lot of my disciplines are not going to change. So what that means is that a lot of my 74 goals are already made for me, I just roll them forward to another year.

Five of my goals are “failure goals,” I wrote them last year or the year before and didn’t accomplish them so I just roll them forward another year until I accomplish them. Occasionally I delete them if I have had them so long that the probability of ever doing them is very small. I have a goal for this next year to climb Mt Adams, I have had it for the last three years and if I don’t make it this year, I never will.

A few of my goals are BHags, “Big, Hairy, Audacious, Goals.” One of them is to go on a boat for a ten-day, long-range fishing trip out of San Diego. Another is to go on an archery hunting trip to Texas for pigs and a whitetailed buck, a big one. Both of these would happen before 2025.

Goal setting is an awesome tool for establishing godly habits. They also are a great tool for putting down on paper ideas and dreams that you were afraid to even consider because of the difficulty of ever doing them. But once you write them as a goal and start reading them several times each week the probability goes up substantially.

I love the discipline of writing goals and reading them several times each week., it gives me a strong sense of self-control.

Time for Goals

I start teaching my leadership class the first weekend in October, and because one my first topics I teach on in the class is goal setting I need to have my 2023 goals written so I can use my goals as an illustration for the class. I will be 74 in October so I need 74 goals. I have been reading my 2022 goals several times each day to get inspired to dream up and write the new ones. Actually, I keep over half of my goals the same the next year so I will need to come up with about 30 new goals for this next year. 20 of my last years goals I did 0 zero on, didn’t even start trying to accomplish them, so I will either simply rewrite them again, downsize them a bit, or drop them entirely. 2023 will be a good year

I love goals