More, more, more

is it all right to want more of God’s blessing in my life? How about wanting more righteousness?  I think it is ok to want more of God in that we know Him more, we please Him more, and it would be right in line with John 15 to want more fruit or results from our life. My daily prayer is “Lord, I want more fruit in the next ten years than I had in the first 40 years I pastored here at JBC.  One of the really big differences in people that I have observed is the difference in size and passion of their wanting more. I am consumed and driven by my desire for more. Many proactively work hard at “mellowing” their wanting more so they can relax and not feel like a failure when their fruit production for God is mediocre. Very few traits in a person make as much difference in what they accomplish with their life than their want and desire to accomplish more each week, each month, each year of their life. Those who want the most pray the most. Those who want the most work the hardest. Those who want the most are the ones most faithful to read the Word of God. Those who want the most write goals. Those who want the most get counsel  from others.

Dealing with life

sometimes it is hard to tell what is the right thing to do in a situation, especially when what you want to do and what is the expected behavior are opposites. It is also interesting that people are so different in crisis situations in how they deal with it. My Mom was having a hard time breathing tonight so they took her by ambulance to the the hospital and she is in ICU. My wife Patty in these situations automatically Morphs into Florence Nightengale. She starts making phone calls finding out how everybody is doing, she starts reading medical journals and calling the doctors to tell them what to do ( just joking on that last,part) and then she suggests to me that we drive up,there tonight. What I would like to do is get in my 1949 Ford pickup and start driving by myself anywhere, it really doesn’t matter, until I got sleepy, curl up on the seat and sleep,until I was cold and then drive some more. I wouldn’t tell anybody where I was and I wouldn’t call, in fact I would throw my cell phone away. I would stay off the grid as it were until it was all,over one way or another. Doesn’t seem like what strong mature, responsible people do, especially pastors, but that is what ai want to do. I always wish that I could have been on a missions trip for the last two years of my Dads life. He was such a picture of strength and wisdom for me all my life but the last two years he was so weak and frail. Several years ago Mom and Patty and I went on a two week trip to Fairbanks Alaska camping  along the way. Mom and I went to a commercial gold mine for a tour and they let us pan for gold. Mom was so into that and had such a good  time. I wish that was the last memory I had of her. I don’t want to see her in a hospital bed with tubes, all white and frail, but I guess that is life.

Words

I am reminded frequently of the power of words spoken by another person to impact my life for either good or bad, to lift me up or tear me down, to encourage or discourage me, to make my day or totally ruin it.  If others can do that to me by their words then I can surely do that to them. Carelessness in my conversation and comments to others is probably a major weakness of mine.  I want to be much more pro-active in my conversations, that is, I have thought about and planned words that I can speak that will bring great grace into another persons life. Sometimes it is a simple statement, even funny that will make my day. A number of people visit us at JBC on weekends at our services who have heard my sermons on the radio. This past Saturday evening a couple walked in, and I greeted them and introduced myself to them. The lady responded by saying, “Your Dee Duke! Your not ugly!”. Evidently in one of my sermons that she had listened to I had referred to myself as ugly or less than handsome so she was expecting to see  a homely dude when she met me.   I am not sure why, but it struck me as very funny, and I laughed out loud and thanked her for making my day. She went on and shared how much the teaching on the Bible that I did, and that she listened to each day had changed her life. Later that evening I was replaying that event in my head thinking how enjoyable and fun the experience had been for me, and I recommitted myself to working hard at making other people’s day by what I said to them.

Counseling

i have been working on my 1949 Ford pickup lately putting a mustang II independent front suspension with coil over suspension, disc brakes, and tack and pinion steering . I got it all finished today, but I couldn’t get the brakes to work right. I called a friend to get some advice and he came over to my place to help me. He helped for a little bit and then he informed me that I had the front disc brake calipers on upside down and on the wrong sides. If I hadn’t called him and asked for help I probably would be still out in  my shop working on that pickup getting very frustrated at old Henry Ford. If we are having some struggles in our marriage the very best thing is to get some counseling, if we are feeling in over our heads trying to raise our kids there are those who have done it well, ask for advice, If we are in debt and can’t figure out how to get out and have financial freedom, getting financial advice is the wisest thing to do. Many people struggle for years and ultimately fail because they have so much pride and they think they can do it by themselves or don’t want anybody to know that they are struggling. The Biblical definition for pride is thinking, “I can do if by myself” or “I don’t need you.”.

 

Dog Training

we have a 2 month old golden retriever puppy. We are training her. The first order of business is  to get her not to pee and poop in the house but outside. It is a slow process. And then she is a whiner and barks when she is unhappy, so we are training her not to whimper, whine, or bark. That is very slow, at times seemingly  impossible. And then when she is playing she bites, not hard but with those needle puppy teeth it doesn’t need to be hard to hurt. And then there is the customary sit, stay, come ,  and heal commands. Why does a person go to all that bother to train a dog any way, they are just a dog. It has to do with the reason a person has a dog in the first place, for companionship. An untrained dog is a pain, and they are not enjoyable to have as a companion. A trained dog on the other hand is enjoyable to have around and it is easy to get very attached to them. It takes a lot of time and effort, but once accomplished it is worth the effort though it hardly seems like it in the training process. God is in the process of training each of us so that when we get to heaven we will be enjoyable to be with, that is we would bring great joy to the heart of God  Our training is less about behavior and more about character that determines behavior. The more like God in character that we are when we enter into heaven the more He will enjoy are company, and the more we will enjoy Him. God doesn’t create character, it is developed and trained into us during life. God does His part in our life, but we must cooperate if we are going to grow and change and acquire the character of God. Many people are dumber than a dog and not much character is developed in them during their life. That is to bad because it will be an eternal deficit.

 

 

Leadership

leadership is influence, not being a boss, but changing people on purpose. Not accidental leadership, but on purpose, thought out, pro-active leadership, influencing people in a direction , towards a standard, a particular way of living.  Leadership is training a person how to live life successfully, often in such a way that they don’t realize that they are being influenced or trained. I am training my new puppy not to potty in the house, and I am attempting to influence many other people how to live productive lives that bring joy to themselves and others. Totally different, but much the same. Being a good leader is a choice, and requires that you have a strong confidence in the standard you are influencing people towards.  My standard is the Word of God, and I am confident that it is truth right from God, and represents the ultimate way to live life successfully. The second requirement to being a good leader is that you have led yourself reasonably well towards what you are attempting to lead others to.  That requires an accurate self awareness, and a very real transparency that allows God to bless and empower. Leaders are not better than others, just ahead of them.  I buy and read books on leadership all the time. Many are secular as well as Christian, many are junk, and based more on the skill of manipulation than real leadership. Real ieadershop is selfless, not trying to get people to do things that benefit you but them. Real leadership is like being a good parent, with the other person’s success, fulfillment, and joy the motive. I want to influence my family and those God brings to JBC, and I pray daily for the wisdom and humility to for it well.

Mom

imagemy Mom, Bernice Duke is about 84 years old. She got married shortly after World War II was over to my Dad who was in the war, when she was 15 years old. I came along a year later so the way I remember how old she is, is by adding 16 to my age. She had 5 kids, 24 grandchildren and 76 great grandchildren going on 100. She fell down a couple days ago and broke her hip and had surgery and they gave her a new  hip “ball”. I guess you could call it half a hip replacement. Over the years she has had cancer, some heart problems, knee replacement surgery,  her husband, my Dad died of liver cancer, all of her 6 siblings have died of cancer. She has had quite a few trials in her life, but everybody does by the time you get to be 84 years old, that is the way life is, full of trials, even for the most fortunate person.  I was talking with some people the other day about heaven, and the question was asked if we will remember this life when we get there. My response was that we will remember it much better than we do now because our minds get old and forgetful in this life, and even when we are young we forget a lot and don’t understand most of what is happening to us. Paul in the New Testament book of 1 Corinthians said in this life we see through a darkened glass but in heaven we will see clearly. Our clear memory in great detail of every thing that has happened to us in this life and a very clear understanding of all the reasons that we have no clue on now is one of the reasons heaven will be so wonderful. Contrast gives value and clarity, and the contrast between this life and heaven will be amazing.