Archive for August, 2008

Decisions

August 30, 2008

We are all faced with a variety of decisions every day.  How do we make the right decision?  We gather information, evaluate our options, seek council, pray for wisdom, and make a decision.  If we are human, we will occasionally make the wrong choice which may not be evident until much later. Normally, at the time, we think that we are doing the right thing.  We must be willing to accept the consequences of our decisions.  We gladly accept the reward of our good decisions, but we must also accept responsibility for wrong decisions.   The pain of poor decisions will inspire us to be more careful, to get better information, council or to pray a little harder for divine guidance.     

Our current presidential race is an example of decisions and choices.  This past week both Obama and McCain announced their running mates.  This is a major decision for each of them and only time will tell if they have chosen well.

Trusting Our Source

August 28, 2008

How do we know what is true?  Can we believe everything that we read, or see on TV, or hear from other people?  How do we know what to accept as “true”  and when do we reject something as “false”.  

Our own senses can sometimes be mistaken, our own memories may be faulty, people whom we know and trust, and who even have the right information, may have difficulty communicating that information.  Some people intentionally lie or mislead.  Others may have good basic facts, but draw erroneous conclusions due to incomplete information, or faulty reasoning. They honestly and sincerely report these conclusions as true. 

Our facts may be accepted as true with different degrees of certainty.  For example, it rained this morning.  I am certain this is true because I heard the rain, saw the rain, and was out in the rain.  Unless I was dreaming, or somehow delusional, it rained this morning.

When we are relying on the testimony of others for our information we have to ask whether the source is trustworthy.  The tabloids at the checkout stand are not as reliable as the morning paper, but even the papers may use erroneous sources or present biased information.  Over time we will learn how much we can trust our sources.  If our sources give us information that proves to be incorrect then we know that in the future we cannot trust them fully.  On the other hand, as they establish a reputation for accuracy we can place more trust in the information they convey.

If our information is based on observation followed by drawing conclusions we have to again ask ourselves whether the person making the conclusions is trustworthy.  A friend of mine is an excellent mechanic.  If I tell him about symptoms that my car is having and he tells me what the problem most likely is, I know from previous experience that he is probably right.  ( I might add that he generally says that “it might be.. or it sounds like… ” because he has found that there may be various causes for certain symptoms. )  He has earned my trust by establishing a reputation for accuracy.

It is good to gather information from a variety of sources and it is good to learn that not all sources are equal.  How do we know what is true?  Do we trust our source?

Plod On

August 27, 2008

The key to accomplishing something that is a large task is to keep at it until the job is done.  Now I don’t mean that we are to work none stop for how ever long it takes, what I mean is that we work at the project a little at a time, as we are able, until it is finished.   It is important that we do what we can, when wecan, and not quit.  Often people are overwhelmed by the enormity of the task in front of them.  What we need to do is focus only on a single step, the present task that we are performing. Single steps are easier, and less overwhelming. 

Many years ago we had a guest speaker at our church.  He referred to the work of God in a small community as being a case of plod on, plod on, plod on.  It is not flashy. It is not fancy.  It is not something that people write books or articles about, but it is an important part of the ongoing work in the kingdom of God. 

It is not just ministry, it is many of the tasks that we face in life.  The job that we undertake may not be easy, it may not be accomplished quickly, but we can do many things if we will put our minds to it.  We decide what we are to do, make a plan about how to do it, and then step by step, do what needs to be done.  We may need to adjust our time line, we may need to evaluate whether a project is worth the cost in time, effort and money, we may need to change tactics, but we will be surprised at what we can accomplish in our lives if we will put our minds to something, and not quit.

Plod on.

Motorcycle Helmet Law

August 26, 2008

I live in Iowa and I ride a motorcycle.  I always wear a helmet even though, in Iowa, and in Minnesota, my home state, I have the legal right to ride without one.  I am amazed at the number of people who choose not to wear helmets.  For many years, it seemed as though I was practically alone in my use of a helmet.  This year I have noticed an increase in the number of people who are wearing helmets.  I suspect that it is because of the number of people who have started riding for the sake of cheaper transportation. 

I have always been amazed at the inconsistency of our laws regarding safety.   In Iowa, and Minnesota, you are required to wear a seat belt in the front seat of an automobile.  If we are going to mandate safety in automobiles, why don’t we mandate safety in motorcycles?  If choice is important for motorcyclists, why is it not important for people riding in a car?  Shouldn’t there be some consistency?  Or is it simply the numbers, and the fact that riding a motorcycle is dangerous with or without a helmet?  Or that the lobbyists for motorcycle rights were more effective?  I wonder what is the justification for the inconsistency?

On a related note,  and more importantly, I have seen adults giving rides on motorcycles to children where neither the adult, nor the child were wearing helmets.  I do believe we should have a law that requires anyone under 18 to wear a helmet.  We require car seats for children in automobiles and I believe that we should require helmets for children on motorcycles.  If adults want to risk cracking thier skulls on the pavement, I suppose that it can be their choice to do so, but I believe that children should be protected until they are adults themselves.

Summer Breaks Over!

August 25, 2008

This past weekend we brought one of my sons back to college.  He goes to school at a college about 350 miles away.  At this point, I do not know if he will be back home before Christmas break.

My other son left this morning for his first day of classes at a nearby college.  He will graduate this spring and then plans to enter the workforce.

My classes will begin tomorrow.  I will need to update syllabi today. 

Summer Break is over.

Actually, I taught a summer course so, for me, it really wasn’t much of a break.  Indeed, for me, “break” means working one job instead of two, since my primary occupation is pastoring. 

We did have two different weeks of vacation, which were both wonderful.  One at a lake in northern Iowa in June, the other a motorcycle trip that went to places throughout Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin in August. 

It is time, however to settle back into the routine of pastoring and teaching.  Actually, the idea that pastoring can be routine is rather scary, since really, anything can happen.  So how is that routine?

I have often said that one of the great things about being a pentecostal pastor is that at any given moment, at any given service you do not know what God is going to do.  This is true not only for pastors, but for all of God’s people.  God has great things in store for us all, some now, some later. 

What I do know, is that I trust God.   Completely,  with my life, and the lives of my children, my family, my ministry, my hopes and my dreams, with everything that matters.

So the routine, is not really routine.  It is another day in the life of a Christian; where anything could happen. 

What will happen today?

Life Isn’t Fair, but God is Just

August 21, 2008

“All men are created equal.”  It’s a great line, and I believe that in the eyes of God, all people are loved equally, but here on earth it doesn’t seem so equal.  Some people are born into families with lots of money and all the opportunities that come with economic privilege, and some are born into poor families with far fewer opportunities.  Some people are blessed with a superior basic intelligence that they only have to  put forth a minimal effort to do well academically, while others struggle mightily to simply pass.  Some people are gifted with physical abilities that allow them to shine in the athletic arena, and some struggle to tie their gym shoes without losing their balance.  Some are blessed in every area, and some seem to have no gifts at all.  How is this fair, or equal?

It isn’t.

This world is comprised of a wide variety of people and circumstances.  We do not have control over many things in our lives, but we do have control over what choices we make, and the attitudes that we maintain.

I believe that God rewards good choices and good attitudes.  I believe that God knows everything about us and our circumstances.  He is loving  and merciful, kind and just.  He will enable us to live out our lives in a relationship with Him that makes the other aspects of our lives pale in significance.  At the end, “Many who are first, will be last, and many who are last, will be first.”  God will judge us not on how much we have in this life, but what we do with what He has given us. Remember that “to whom much is given, much will be required.”  Maybe its not so bad, to not have much.

Just something to think about.

Planned or Impulsive?

August 20, 2008

“Those who fail to plan, should plan to fail.”

“Prior planning prevents poor performance.”

There are two ways to express the importance of planning ahead.  Whether we are talking about time, money, or objectives, it is very helpful to think about what we want to accomplish and then make plans about how to achieve our goals.  Very little will be accomplished by accident.  We do not have enough time or money to do everything and so, choices must be made and goals set; and plans laid out and followed.

I can sometimes get carried away with this sort of thinking.  In the Marine Corps,  “Accomplish the Mission.” was the number one objective and I still easily lapse into that mentality.  I can focus my eyes on the goal to the point that I am oblivious to the moment, or current circumstances.  This is not a good thing.  We live in the moment and it is not all about the goal.

There is a place for the impulsive.  The times when you should adjust your plans, or set them aside momentarily.  Having everything planned out in advance makes for a rigid and inflexible lifestyle in which one may feel trapped or suffocated.  There should be some flexibility in our lives. 

As in most things, the key is to find the balance.  Good planning is important.  Flexibility and spontaneity are also important.  Incorporating both into our lives will make them more enjoyable and rewarding.

Seeing the Hand of God

August 19, 2008

On the last full day of our latest motorcycle trip we travelled from near Garrison, MN to Duluth, up the north shore to Split Rock lighthouse, back down through Duluth, over to Superior, WI, and then we began to look for a hotel.  We stopped at one that we hoped would be within our budget and were amazed at the price that they were asking.  We talked about it  and agreed that there would be something better down the road.  Earlier in the day we had agreed that God would have a place for us… and that hotel wasn’t it.

A little further down the road there was indeed a hotel in Solan Springs, WI.  There was only one hotel in that town and they had one room left.  It was a nice room with a beautiful lake view.  the price was less than the previous hotel.  This was indeed the room that God had for us. 

I wonder how often we settle for something that is less than what  God intends for us because we are impatient?  Or because we are unwilling to go the extra mile? 

I wonder how often God provides a blessing in our life and we don’t even realize it? 

How often does he protect us from things that could happen,  and we just assume that it is nothing?

I wonder how often we see the hand of God at work in our lifes?

I wonder how often we give Him thanks?

Probably not often enough.

Motorcycle Trip

August 18, 2008

We returned Saturday from a motorcycle trip to Minnesota, and Wisconsin.  Our motorcycle is a 1982 Yamaha Venture.  We purchased this bike back in June and it had been running well for us so we decided to take the bike on the vacation that we had planned to go on earlier in the year.

It went very well, but we covered 1,150 miles in four days of travelling, with 400 miles on the last day.  I had never been on an extended bike trip and it was quite an adventure.  Gloria is completely hooked and is ready to go again tomorrow… my backside is still sore:)  I look forward to the next trip, but Gloria would like to try for 500 miles….sigh.

Break

August 12, 2008

I will not be posting anything new until Saturday.  It is important to take  breaks once in a while.  I have been posting pretty consistently five times a week since June.  If you are new to this blog check out some of the older material. 

I’ll be back.