4 times a year JBC holds a prayer event called “Five Days of Prayer”. We pray from 5 to 10 am and then again 5 to 10 pm for five days, Monday through Friday. We take a 15 minute break every hour for people to come and go and to get a snack and cup of coffee and to visit for a few minutes. Today was our first day of this particular “Five Days of Prayer”. For this prayer event we are praying primarily for our Christmas drama, the actors, singers, all others involved, and that many will come to see it. For me it is a super spiritually renewing time. There is such a strong sense of God’s presence that genuinely fills me with joy. When these prayer events are coming up I try to get as much of my calendar cleared as possible so I can be in the prayer room as long as possible each day. Today I was able to be in with the others, and there is usually about 25 people, for 9 of the 10 hours. It is not me being super spiritual, it is me doing what makes me feel really, really good. I truly believe that God will bless many people because of our praying. I am looking forward to another powerfully blessed day tomorrow as I spend time with God.
One of my goals is to call my Mom every week. I know how much I like it when one of my kids call me and how honored I feel. My Mom was the key to my spiritual formation as I grew up as a kid, and I need to honor her. The problem is that I forget, and pretty soon another week has gone by and I haven’t called my Mom. I have a list of 12 things that I do every day, my “daily dozen duties”, and I read the list every night to make sure I didn’t forget anything. The problem is that I don’t have a list of weekly duties to read to make sure I don’t forget. I am going to try and use my appointment App that I have on my phone and put in “Call Mom” on three dates during the week, and I should be able to make one of them work as they pop up in my reminder window. I have a goal to pray with Patty three times a week and I struggle to make that one happen for the same reason. I also have a goal to take Patty on a date twice each month, and you guessed it, I tend to forget that one as well. I schedule most of the things I do each week, like counseling appointments, meetings, etc. but I haven’t scheduled calling my mom, praying with Patty and taking Patty on a date because they are so important to me, and so enjoyable, I didn’t think I needed to schedule it, they would just happen. One of the things I teach in my leadership classes is that the more structured you are the more faithful you will be. I guess I better follow my own advice.
Our service tonight at JBC was super good. The worship was awesome and I felt really energized tonight as I preached, and felt really good after the service. Then I came home and was a grump to everyone including my dog, Russel. Laying in bed writing this I am trying to figure out how that happened and why. Sometimes life is such a puzzle, I guess a better way of saying that is, sometimes I am such a puzzle. I often have a bit of a judgmental attitude towards moody people and the next thing I know, I am one! I am working at training my dog not to be so hyper, I wish I could figure out how to train me. I have confessed all that I can think of to God and I am so thankful that He forgives me. I need to do the same with some people tomorrow. I hate doing the same dumb things over again. Help me Lord to make a little bit of progress tomorrow to be more like You.
One of the key concepts of life is that what we think about predominately is how we will act, so if we want to change how we act we must first change how we think. The Bible teaches that in Proverbs 23:7, “as a man thinks in his heart, so he is”. Another part of this law of life is the fact that what we speak out of our mouth sets or makes permanent how we think habitually. We speak words out of our mouth mostly on the basis of what we see, hear, and experience in life. Controlling our words is very hard, in fact in the New Testament in the book of James it says that controlling our words is the hardest part of our life to control. So the cycle goes like this for many; you have a negative experience in life so you grumble and complain about it because of the inconvenience, discomfort, or pain it causes. Those negative words powerfully influence the way we think, moving our running self talk in the negative direction, which prompts us to complain even more which in turn moves our thinking further to the critical. This movement to the negative in our thinking influences our choices, our relationships, our joy level, our energy level, and even our walk with God. It is no wonder that God tells us clearly in His Word in Philipians 2:14 to do everything without any grumbling or complaining.” Every morning as I pray my “commitment prayer” one point in it is “today I will not complain about anything no matter how bad it is, not even a little bit”. I am never totally successful at keeping my commitment but I work hard at getting better at being a positive person who rejoices always. I target certain phrases that become habit like “I am so tired”. Saying it just makes it worse so I replace it with, “thank You Lord for giving me so much to do for You, please give me Your strength to accomplish all the work You give me to do, thank You.
We had Thanksgiving Dinner at Mike and Sarah’s house, along with their three kids, Sarah is our oldest. Sandee and Luke and their 4 children also came, Samdee is our second born. Thomas and Sherri and their little boy also were their, Sherri is our 4th, and Seth our only unmarried of 8 kids rounded out the ones there at our feast. Tomorrow we are going to do it all over again at our house and Sam and Shannon and their 3 kids will join us. We plan on watching a lot of football and eating a lot of food. I am always very blessed by our family get togethers whether there are just a couple there or the whole gang of 8 kids, 6 son in laws, a daughter in law, and 22 grandkids. What blesses me most is the incredible unity and love that exists between everybody. It makes our gatherings very, very enjoyable for me. Not enjoyable in the sense of fun, but in the sense of feeling happy and proud because of the character of each of our family. They all love the Lord with all their heart, are growing in their Christian walk, and they all are serving the Lord and bearing fruit for Him. Also one the most enjoyable things is that each of them treat Patty and I with great respect, honor and love. I always leave these events feeling special. It is a great feeling that I will never get tired of or will I ever take it for granted. Thank You Lord for blessing our family so much.
As I sit and think, talking to myself is what I am really doing. I always think, but at times like this evening I am thinking, I guess you would call it reflectively. I am much more aware of the words that are forming in my mind as I think tonight than at other times when I am just cruising through the day and my mind is sort of on auto pilot mode. At times like tonight is when I am most self aware, that is my uniqueness as an individual, one of a kind, nobody like me, person who has conversations with himself, and can have ideas that are totally from me. As I reflect about my existence I state with conviction in my self talk that God created me as an act of His will, in His image and likeness, for the purpose of being with Him forever in love, unity, and fellowship. God’s intent is that I would enjoy Him forever and that He would enjoy me. I exist, breath, think, very much alive because God chose to create me. As I think about being thankful, I can be thankful for stuff, for circumstances, and for people, but I think what I am most thankful for tonight is that I exist, that God did indeed choose to give me life, and the cool thing is that I am eternal, I will never cease to be self aware, to think, to choose, to love, to enjoy. One of these days soon I will change locations, I will be in heaven with a new body, with a perfect invironment, and I am sure that my thinking will be so much more intelligent, and clear, and unbiased. Wow, I do have so much to be thankful for. There really is never any excuse for me to feel sorry for myself, not even a little bit.
I enjoy reading the biographies of great people. I would define a great person as someone who became well known because of a significant accomplishment that came as a result of character. A book I am reading now is about Norman Schwarzkopf, titled “Life Lessons from the Bear”. In the book each chapter deals with a character trait that Schwarzkopf endorsed, taught and modeled. Some of those traits are courage, integrity, love, perseverance, leadership, discernment, and reliability. A question I have is how does a 67 year old man acquire these character traits and grow stronger in them. It is a fact that the older one gets the more set in his ways he becomes, and that is not just in preferences. I would like to shift into high gear in the area of character acquisition and growth in my life. It is for sure more difficult than learning how to sing. Much of what is needed is basic character traits as a foundation for more. One of those foundation stones would be humility in the sense of being willing to recognize that there are huge deficits that need to be worked on. It is easy to get comfortable with who we are and get locked into that character state because of the natural desire to protect ourselves and to create a sense of worth that is not true. Intense scrutiny of our own character weaknesses without paralyzing ourselves with a sense of failure is tricky, but I think very doable with perseverance. I am determined to grow rapidly with the short time left to do that. I don’t want to miss a day growing because I am reluctant to face the discomfort that self examination brings. Help me Lord to pursue being more and more like You.