Exciting and Fun Goals

I have 73 goals for this year. I already have two of the harder ones accomplished; finding a person to oversee the small group ministry at JBC and finding someone to be the pastor at Buena Vista Community Church, both accomplished. As I was reading through the 71 Goals that I have left this afternoon, I started thinking about #61 and researching it. “I will go to a major and very good church growth seminar this year and take at least one staff member with me.” I researched by Googling “fastest-growing churches” and then reading through the websites and Facebook sites of the churches that came up in the search. I also typed in “best church growth seminars,” and did the same with that list. Part of the problem and challenge is that I only have certain dates open to go to one of these seminars. It seems like the very best ones all fall on a date that would be impossible to go.

Back in the early days of JBC in the 80’s and 90’s I would go to a seminar around four times each year. I always learned a ton of information and could hardly wait to return home and put all my newfound wisdom into practice. I didn’t know very much about leading a church, about effective, corporate evangelism methods, about much of anything related to pastoring, so I was like a kid in a candy store when I went on these trips.

You can learn something from anybody, but given a choice, “Learn from the Best!” There are seminars and retreats on marriage, parenting, managing money, blogging, woodworking, boat building, computer use, fishing, hunting, weight loss. There really isn’t much of an excuse for staying dumb, except our laziness and pride.

Nuts

For some reason I got lots of nuts for Christmas this year, way more than usual. I got lots of mixed nuts, almonds, peanuts, and hazel nuts. My major bhag this year is to loose weight. Right now I weigh more than I have for about 10 years, and I am determined to succeed in accomplishing my goal. My goal is to lose 40 lbs and get down to 188 lbs, which is what I weighed the day before we got married, 52 years ago. Nuts aren’t exactly low calorie but they do work in a Keto diet because they have no carbs.

One of the things that is going to be cool about heaven is that my glorified body won’t get fat. That means if Jesus comes back tonight I am forever done with diets, that will be so nice.

One of the things that I do each year is to pick one character trait that I focus on. This year it will be self-control. I will find as many Bible verses as I can on the character trait and memorize and meditate on them, I will buy a couple of books on self-control, I will listen to podcasts on how to grow stronger in self-control, and I will work at growing in this character trait in 2022. I know that becoming more self-controlled will not only help in my eating, or I should say, my not eating, but it will help in my speech, my thought life, my use of time, and a host of other area in my life.

Highly Motivated

When I have zero motivation I sit in my recliner staring out the window with no desire to do anything else. But then I think about all the consequences that will come into my life if I sit there the rest of my life so my motivation level moves up to ten and I get up and go to the bathroom. I was motivated by the fear of loss, fear of shame, fear of pain. Fear is the most basic of the motivations, the foundation, the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. I became a Christian because I didn’t want to spend eternity in agony and pain in the “Lake of Fire.” Many things I choose to do because of the consequences that I will experience if I don’t. It is getting close to tax time. Most of what our government does with the money I pay to them I am opposed to, but I send it anyway because they have a big stick.

The second motivation in the hierarchy of motivators is the hope of reward, the desire for pleasure and joy, the craving for glory, the sense of accomplishment. We train our dog, Roscoe, with doggy treats; when he obeys, he gets a doggy treat. God motivates us with the fear of punishment and the hope of reward throughout the Bible; Heaven and hell, the “Judgment Seat of Christ,” and blessings in life for right choices right living. Most people have very little awareness that God disciplines for wrong behavior and rewards for good behavior, so they sit in their recliner staring out the window.

Dogs are motivated by these two motivators and with many people that is mostly what motivates them to work hard, study hard, have a good marriage, manage their money well, and even serve in their church.

But moving up the hierarchy of motivators we come to “Love of person.” Jesus died on the cross because He loved us, and he said that if we truly love others we will lay down our life for them. Paul declared that his love for Jesus motivated all the sacrifices that he made in life. If I love my wife the way Jesus loves the Church I will give up my life for her. Fear of loss and hope of reward are all about me, but love is all about others. When I get all three of those motivators working together in my heart like a well-oiled machine, I become a very motivated person accomplishing a lot with my life that matters for all eternity.

One more motivator is the highest of them all, which many people, Christian people, good people have little of. It is duty or a sense of responsibility. Duty is much like love but love has a face attached to it, a name, a relationship. I watched some video footage of “D-Day” at Normandy in the Second World War. As I watched men plunge off of landing craft into the water with intense gunfire and bombs going off all around them, facing almost certain death, I wondered what was motivating them to do that. It was undoubtedly more than the character trait of bravery. My Dad had four ships sunk under him during World War II, and I recognized in him all through his life a strength of motivation that resulted in a very faithful man. One of his sayings was, “always do the right thing because it is the right thing.” I wonder how many people are motivated by that saying? Some have debated with me over my making duty nobler than love. I do so on the fact that very few people have grown to that motivation in regular, everyday life. Many will rise to it in crisis situations, like war, but few live it every day. Those who have all four motivators going like four pistons in an engine have a lot of power.

Duty as a motivator is a result of identity. A soldier faces danger because that is what soldiers do, my Dad called it “the power of the uniform.” My identity now is, I am a disciple, a fully devoted follower of Jesus Christ, a servant of the most high God. If I am, then I need to act like it, live like it, talk like it. That is my duty on the basis of who I am.

New Beginning, I Will Do Better, for Sure!

My overriding goal is to get better. Some things I won’t get better at, though, I will probably do worse. I will run slower and less; I will bike slower, I will get dressed slower, it will take me longer to do most projects in my shop, it will take a lot longer to get our winter wood in, almost everything physical I will do slower, I will probably even fish slower!

But my big goal of getting better has to do with my character, maturity, and Christ-likeness. I hunger and thirst to be more righteous; I agonize over my character flaws, the things I say that I know are wrong the second they come out of my mouth. The irritability that I often feel, I would like to be forever done with. The critical and judgmental thoughts I have towards people around me, I would like those gone too. The laziness that I sense slowly creeping into my life because of the increasing difficulty of doing things physically, I would like to conquer that one, stomp it to death.

It is difficult to write goals for those things, but I can write a Bible reading goal, a scripture memory goal, a prayer goal, a journaling goal, a worship God goal, and others like that. Spiritual discipline goals that will result in God working in my life, changing me from the inside out, giving me power, giving me wisdom, giving me joy, making my soul healthy, helping me sense His joy and pleasure in me as His son.

Spiritual disciplines are designed by God to make us like Himself in character. They are supernatural in their effect on my heart, my attitude, my motives, and my thoughts. The problem is that my flesh, my sin nature does not want to do any of the disciplines. That is why I set goals. Goals are the most powerful tool to overcoming my flesh. Paul said, “I don’t run without aim and I don’t box as beating the air, but I beat my flesh and make it my slave.” But, my flesh hates goals also, in fact my flesh fears goals, as does the devil and his demons. Please help me Lord, we can do this.

2021 was a Bad Year

I have been writing one year goals since I was 16 years old, and last year was my worst year for actually accomplishing the goals that I wrote. One of the principles that I teach about successful goal setting is the need to be flexible and make adjustments to your goals if needed. Because of all that was happening in our world this last year I became ultra flexible, and I was making adjustments to almost all of my goals every week. It is hard to hit the bullseye when it moves all of the time.

Some people quit setting goals if they have a bad year accomplishing them because they don’t like feeling like a failure. I get irritated at myself and write a couple extra BHAGS, figure out what I did wrong, make adjustments, oops fell asleep here a couple of hours ago and now I am to rummy to think straight.

Licorice

Someone gave me a package of black licorice from Trader Joe’s for Christmas. I have eaten a lot of different licorice over the years and consider myself somewhat of a licorice connoisseur. Still, this licorice ought to be considered illegal because it is so good someone would kill for it. It is big around, it is soft but still chewy, and the licorice taste is so strong, it is fantastic.

I wonder if there will be licorice in heaven? It seems if heaven is going to be heaven there will undoubtedly be licorice, and for sure Trader Joe’s.

Life is full of small pleasures that happen all day long, but we often steamroll right past them for any number of reasons, but one being we become indifferent to the “small” things in life because any one of them is not that big of a deal, but if they were all stacked up they would be a huge deal.

Becoming a positive person, a happy person, happens when we become a grateful person for all the little good things that happen to everybody all of the time, even in the worst of times.

It is so easy to become a negative person, one who sees mostly just the bad things that happen in life. You then will become a sad person, a bitter person, one who is no fun to be around.

My solution for all negative, sad people is go buy a bag of black licorice at Trader Joe’s, eat it all in one sitting, but eat it slowly, savoring every piece. Then thank Jesus for the pleasure and then determine that you will notice every good thing, no matter how small, and thank Jesus for it all. If you feel yourselves going back into the pit of being negative, buy another bag of licorice, but don’t be a slow learner or otherwise you will get really fat.

Snow

This is the most snow I can remember having here in a long time. In the past, whenever the weatherman would make a big hype about coming snow, my response would be, “yeah, right,” because it never happened, so imagine my surprise when I walked out on our back porch on Sunday at 6:00 am to see all the snow! It has been fun watching the grandkids play in the snow. I threw one snowball at my grandson, Courage and I still can’t brush my teeth with that arm. There are certain things old guys shouldn’t do, and throwing snowballs is certainly on that list, maybe even at the top.

We went up to Fairbanks, Alaska last year to have Christmas with our daughter Shelly and her family, and there was lots of snow. Where I grew up in Trout Lake, Washington there was frequently a lot of snow. I remember when I was a Junior in High School walking around on the top of the snow in our driveway/parking area, jamming a six-foot pole into the snow trying to find my car before the snow removal guys showed up to clear up enough space for the milk truck to get into so they could pick up our milk, I didn’t want them to run into my car with that snowplow.

The snow will get mushy and dirty in a couple of days, but right now it is very beautiful, white, clean, hanging on the trees, and looking like a white Christmas, Christmas card. It reminds me of one of the few verses in the Bible that mentions snow.

Psalms 51:7-9 Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Make me to hear joy and gladness,
Let the bones which You have broken rejoice.
Hide Your face from my sins

Because of my faith in Jesus Christ I am washed by God, I am spiritually clean, God forgives my sins, and I am going to live forever and ever with God. Awesome promise.

Perplexed

Writing about seven ways to know the will of God makes it sound like figuring out the will of God is simple, but I am perplexed. I have several decisions to make and I can’t figure out what to do, I am perplexed. I have gone over the seven principles several time and I am still perplexed. So what Am I going to do? I am going to continue praying asking God to show me His plan and will for my life, I am going to get some more counsel from some very wise people and I will be patient and wait until I know what to do. But if a decision has to be made I will make it doing the best I can with the information that I have. If the time comes and a decision needs to be made I will make it confidently without any fear of making the wrong choice, though I know that I might make a dumb decision. Fear messes with our ability to have sound judgment, and it increases the likelihood of making a wrong decision.

Seven Ways to Know God’s Will #7

There are groups or classes of people when it comes to the subject of living life according to God’s will. There are those who don’t care what God’s will is, they are going to do what they want, not what God wants. Most Christians are in that camp, though not because of an independent spirit or rebellion, but because of apathy, lukewarmness, indifference, being naive, complacency, and just being far from God because of worldliness. These people only think about God’s will when their lives start falling apart and they seem helpless to do anything about it. Then they want to know what God’s will is, and they want God to fix their life for them. This passage in Proverbs describes the boat these people are in, and what it will be like when it starts to sink.

Proverbs 1:24-33
“Because I called and you refused,
I stretched out my hand and no one paid attention;
And you neglected all my counsel
And did not want my reproof;
I will also laugh at your calamity;
I will mock when your dread comes,
When your dread comes like a storm
And your calamity comes like a whirlwind,
When distress and anguish come upon you.
“Then they will call on me, but I will not answer;
They will seek me diligently but they will not find me,
Because they hated knowledge
And did not choose the fear of the Lord.
“They would not accept my counsel,
They spurned all my reproof.
“So they shall eat of the fruit of their own way
And be satiated with their own devices.
“For the waywardness of the naive will kill them,
And the complacency of fools will destroy them.
“But he who listens to me shall live securely
And will be at ease from the dread of evil.”

I know what my wife wants because I am close to her. I know what makes her happy and pleases her because I know her. I know what will upset her, irritate her, and hurt her because of the intimacy of our relationship.

The way to know what God’s will is, is to know God, be close to Him. So many simply want to know what God’s will is because they assume that means a trouble-free life of comfort. They should probably read the book of Job.

The Bible repeats over and over the command and the blessings of seeking the Lord. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. How do you seek God? Attend church services faithfully. Listen attentively to the sermons, learn and repent. Read the Bible every day. Spend time in prayer privately and corporately. Be involved in some kind of ministry in your church. Give faithfully and sacrificial of your money. Examine your life humbly and confess all known sin to God. Be baptized and participate thoughtfully in Communion, and worship God with all of your heart corporately and privately, praise the Lord always and don’t grumble about anything. That list, though long, is not hard. If we truly love God and want to know Him intimately it will be easy.

Seven Ways to Know God’s Will #6

How do you decide what cereal you will eat for breakfast? How about the shirt you pick to wear for the day or church? If you are in my Leadership Class and I give you the assignment to preach a ten-minute sermon on the topic of what has changed most in your life in the last six months, how will you decide? When Patty and I go out for dinner to a restaurant she will read through the menu for at least ten minutes before she can decide what to order. Probably about 90% of the decisions each of us make in a day, we just make and the thought of what God’s will is doesn’t enter our thoughts. It is probably because the consequence of making a wrong choice is not significant so we don’t agonize over it very long trying to decide if it is the will of God. That isn’t necessarily wrong because we were probably using principle # 6 to decide in each of those instances what we ought to do.

The six way to make choices as we go through life is to just decide using wisdom. This method assumes that we are wise people because we have been wisdom seekers throughout our life.

Proverbs 2:2-5 & 9
Make your ear attentive to wisdom,
Incline your heart to understanding;
For if you cry for discernment,
Lift your voice for understanding;
If you seek her as silver
And search for her as for hidden treasures;
Then you will. . . discern righteousness and justice
And equity and every good course.

“Every good course” that is we make good decisions.

The most import thing to do do as wisdom seekers is to read the Bible faithfully, daily is best. If we are faithful Bible readers and seekers after wisdom we will navigate through life successfully in the will of God.