Thankful Heart

 

Girl holding a heart-shaped boxI want to have a thankful heart no matter what my circumstances.

I want to have a thankful heart in the middle of crisis.

I want to have a thankful heart in the joy of victory.

I want to have a thankful heart in the depths of grief.

 

A thankful heart can’t co-exist with a hateful heart.

A thankful heart can’t co-exist with anger.

A thankful heart can’t co-exist with selfishness.

A thankful heart can’t co-exist with greed.

A thankful heart can’t co-exist with envy.

A thankful heart can’t co-exist with jealousy.

 

A thankful heart CAN co-exist with giving!

A thankful heart CAN co-exist with love!

A thankful heart CAN co-exist with joy!

A thankful heart CAN co-exist with peace!

A thankful heart CAN co-exist with patience!

I think you get the picture – a thankful heart stands on its own and needs to be the foundation of everything good inside my heart.

I’m trying to commit this to memory this week. Check this out… 

“The human heart is the most deceitful of all things,
    and desperately wicked.
    Who really knows how bad it is?
10 But I, the Lord, search all hearts
    and examine secret motives.
I give all people their due rewards,
    according to what their actions deserve.” (Jeremiah 17:9-10 NLT)

I want to have a whole thankful heart every day for the rest of my life.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Good Morning!

Grace AND TruthI am definitely a “morning person”. I enjoy the quiet and solitude of morning. I enjoy the fresh new day in the morning. It’s like I have a blank canvas upon which to paint my day. I don’t know when I became a morning person. I remember when I was in 8th grade, I would help milk the cows by hand each morning. We kept three or four cows on our small farm and milked them by hand each morning and evening. I helped my Dad in the morning before he went to work and I went to school. Yes, we drank fresh cow milk and I’m not a “milk fan” to this day. Several years ago, I felt like the Lord was calling me to spend some time with Him each morning before starting my day. I started setting my alarm a bit earlier so that I could do that. I started reading His Word each morning along with a fresh cup of coffee. Over the years He has spoken such profound truth into my heart. He comforts my soul when I’m worried or stressed. He gives me wisdom and insight beyond what I could ever manage. His Word is alive and active in my life each day and I believe it’s because I begin with Him each morning. Check this out…

The Sovereign Lord has given me his words of wisdom,
    so that I know how to comfort the weary.
Morning by morning he wakens me
    and opens my understanding to his will.
The Sovereign Lord has spoken to me,
    and I have listened.
    I have not rebelled or turned away. (Isaiah 50:4-5 NLT)

This passage reminded me of another passage in the Lamentations of Jeremiah. Check this out…

22 The faithful love of the Lord never ends!
    His mercies never cease.
23 Great is his faithfulness;
    his mercies begin afresh each morning. (Lamentations 3:22-23 NLT)

I continue to grow in my love for the Lord because of my morning time with Him. I continue to find peace and comfort while listening to Him speak. He gives me wisdom and insight into any situation I face. His Spirit is definitely present in the morning as I spend time with Him.

A few years ago, I started opening up Microsoft Word and journaling what The Word was speaking to me in the morning. I then felt like I should share that with others. I’m not sure when I started blogging from my spiritual journey. I’ve been wondering how long the Lord wants me to keep doing this. I have no idea how many people read this. I actually don’t write for any one in particular – I write for me to remember what He is speaking into my heart through His Word. I am not some sort of spiritual guru – I’m just Dwayne, a man who desires to know the heart of God more fully today than yesterday. I love my morning time with Him and if He uses my journey to bless your journey, then I’m thankful. I wish anyone who reads this would trade their time here for time with Him. If you’re not sure where to begin, I love the gospel of John and his perspective on Jesus. I also love the Psalms where real life intersects with our spiritual journey. If you’re reading these words, please consider some morning time with the Lord and His Word. This simple change in my schedule many years ago has changed the entire trajectory of my life. I’m so blessed and thankful.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Restoration Story

 

Fixer Upper House Home Repair Construction ProjectThe word restoration brings with it concepts like renewed, reestablished, returned to a former or original condition. I’m a fan of Chip & Joanna Gaines and their show “Fixer Upper”. They take “run down” or “beaten up” old houses and make them beautiful again and worth a lot more money than they were previously. I have the privilege of seeing homes restored and updated with more new and modern materials. Just yesterday, I listed a home that had been completely taken down to the bare walls (with removal of some walls) and brought back with a new kitchen, new bathroom, flooring, electrical – you name it and it was touched and restored or renewed.

I definitely believe my life has been restored on more than one occasion. There have been seasons of my life where I “went through the motions” of following the Lord. Lately, I’ve had an insatiable hunger for more of Him in my heart. I am participating in a small discipleship group with four other men and we’re reading scripture together and talking about how the Lord is speaking into us. This morning I was reading in Isaiah and the Lord speaks of restoring His people and this passage spoke to me about His restoration of me. Check this out…

I will say to the prisoners, ‘Come out in freedom,’
    and to those in darkness, ‘Come into the light.’
They will be my sheep, grazing in green pastures
    and on hills that were previously bare.
10 They will neither hunger nor thirst.
    The searing sun will not reach them anymore.
For the Lord in his mercy will lead them;
    he will lead them beside cool waters.
11 And I will make my mountains into level paths for them.
    The highways will be raised above the valleys.
12 See, my people will return from far away,
    from lands to the north and west,
    and from as far south as Egypt.”

13 Sing for joy, O heavens!
    Rejoice, O earth!
    Burst into song, O mountains!
For the Lord has comforted his people
    and will have compassion on them in their suffering. (Isaiah 49:9-13 NLT)

I can still recall times of suffering in my life. I can see now what I couldn’t see then – how the Lord uses suffering and struggle to build things into my character and into my heart. I do not wish to go through that again, nor do I wish suffering upon people. I have learned to embrace it when it arrives. I can’t remove it. I can’t escape it. With the Lords help, I can survive it and grow in my faith through it.

My favorite part of this passage is, how the Lord can make mountains level and the highways above the valleys and how He leads beside cool waters. I am a survivor of suffering because the Lord is with me and He will ALWAYS be with me. His promises are real and so is His restoration of my heart. I am a real life that is a “fixer upper” for sure.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Debate

 

Mother scolding her sonI think “debate” is another form of argument. I don’t remember winning any “debates” with my parents when I was growing up. I knew that “yes” meant Yes and “no” meant No! I do remember thinking I knew way more than my parents from a fairly young age. I remember getting my Grandpa (aka Pappy) a card once that said: “The older I get the smarter you get” (paraphrased I’m sure). My Pappy loved the card and beamed. He knew that I was finally getting wise to some insights that I needed to become an adult.

I came across a passage this morning that made me chuckle a bit, because of the truth taught in the passage. Check this out…

“What sorrow awaits those who argue with their Creator.
    Does a clay pot argue with its maker?
Does the clay dispute with the one who shapes it, saying,
    ‘Stop, you’re doing it wrong!’
Does the pot exclaim,
    ‘How clumsy can you be?’ (Isaiah 45:9 NLT)

I must confess that this made me smile to think about an inanimate object arguing back about how I make the handle on the cup that I’m molding out of clay. I also chuckled as I thought about a child calling out their parents about why they were made this way or that way. I must confess that on more than one occasion, I’ve instructed God on what I thought He should do. I’ve learned that if I come to Him in humility and respect that He actually cares what I think and how I feel. I can’t always understand His decisions or His way of doing things, but at the end of the day, I trust Him. I’ve always wanted and tried to do what is best for my children, but they sometimes couldn’t see it that way.

I’ve walked with the Lord through enough suffering and struggle to know that He never leaves me alone – He is ALWAYS near. He gives me strength needed to push through the struggle and suffering so that He is honored. I must look at my suffering and struggle through His perspective and not my own. He may be building something into my life that is needed in the years to come. He sees the whole picture and I just see one little snippet of the big picture.

I’ve stopped debating the Lord about anything. I do still share with Him my opinions and feelings on a diverse set of topics. I also do so with respect and reverence. I’ve learned that He is a Great Listener. Sometimes in my conversations with Him, the light bulb comes on and I get it. My conversations with Him are more for me than for Him – He grows me through my questions and conversations with Him. At the end of everything, I trust Him. Even when I don’t understand, I trust Him. I trust the Heart of God in everything.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Perspective on Power

 

For God so loved the world... God holding world with crossI’ve witnessed the power of high winds and tornados. I’ve talked with those who’ve experienced earth quakes. I’ve seen powerful explosives that take down a stadium to rubble. I’ve seen mighty cranes, trucks, bulldozers.  I’ve seen the destructive power of weapons used to steal, kill and destroy.  Power put in the wrong hands brings about disruption and destruction.

The Lord is ALL POWERFUL. No one else measures up to His Power. I’m in small group of men who are reading in Isaiah this week and immediately, I saw a powerful perspective of the Lord.  He has no equal. Check this out…

12 Who else has held the oceans in his hand?
    Who has measured off the heavens with his fingers?
Who else knows the weight of the earth
    or has weighed the mountains and hills on a scale?
13 Who is able to advise the Spirit of the Lord?
    Who knows enough to give him advice or teach him?
14 Has the Lord ever needed anyone’s advice?
    Does he need instruction about what is good?
Did someone teach him what is right
    or show him the path of justice? (Isaiah 40:12-14 NLT)

The prophet Isaiah is crystal clear on how powerful the Lord is. He explains that nothing or no one else can compare or measure up to Him. He is beyond my ability to fathom this power perspective. He made the heavens and the earth. He knows what the earth weighs? He never needs advice or wise counsel.

After this perspective, I came across one of my favorite passages in all of scripture. Check this out…

28 Have you never heard?
    Have you never understood?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
    the Creator of all the earth.
He never grows weak or weary.
    No one can measure the depths of his understanding.
29 He gives power to the weak
    and strength to the powerless.
30 Even youths will become weak and tired,
    and young men will fall in exhaustion.
31 But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength.
    They will soar high on wings like eagles.
They will run and not grow weary.
    They will walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:28-31 NLT)

He never gets tired or weak and He’s the Supplier of my strength, therefore, I can remain strong. He renews my strength. He rebuilds me when I’m broken. He restores me when I’m devastated. He specializes in renewing and rebuilding broken, hurting people. He makes a way where there seems to be no way.  He most definitely worthy of my trust and confidence. There is no One more powerful, yet gentle, patient, merciful and full of Grace. I’m so thankful to know Him and to be known by Him!

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Not A Worship Leader

Praise at sunset

Blog by Kristen Hicks

I have decided something. Actually, I thought I had already made this decision. I guess that’s what happens with perspective. I’ve decided that I don’t want to be a worship leader. That may shock the crap out of some of you, some of you may even disagree or try to talk me out of it—that’s ok.

This may be hard to explain, you may not even get it, but lately I’ve been asking the Lord, specific questions about who I am and who I’m not. These questions are unmistakably paralleling my questions about who He is and who He is not. I guess that’s what happens when you look at your reflection in the eyes of the One whose image you’re created in— I’m learning to let His gaze define me.

Here is what I have so far:

1. I am a creative; the way that I think, the way I feel things, the way that I see people, the world, life in general— I see color, masterpieces, greatness, music, beauty, adventures, simplicity. I’ve realized I’ve always tried to make up for this, I’ve always tried to not be this way. I’ve beat myself up for not being more practical or logical. Why don’t I care about money, or a career, or all the other things that I see others caring about? Having this mindset, has made me feel like a failure at times, sometimes misplaced.

2. I’ve, also, realized that I love, love, LOVE writing. Never saw that one coming, for some reason. Although, all the signs were there. I mean, come on… coffee, journalling, deep thinking, processing that ends in God-revelation, epic Jesus talks—of course, I love this.

3. I’m not a worship leader. This one is still in the process of understanding.

I’ve been “leading worship” a lot lately, it seems. Not well, if you ask me. I’ve had many talks about it with the Lord, because there seems to be something missing. Maybe there is a wall, maybe it’s just me, maybe it’s just the season I’m in; that’s what I keep trying to chalk it up to, in my head, at least. But the interesting thing is, when it’s just me in my room before the Lord, it’s different. It’s awesome!

There is this quote I keep thinking about: “My prayer for you is that you would gain authority in the places that nobody sees, so when you stand up on stage you have something authentic to give the world.” Melissa Helser, once again, ladies and gentlemen.

The Lord says He’s in the process of flipping my mindset. You see, for the longest time, when I have worshiped in the secret place, I always, imagine myself on the stage. For starters, because I know I’m made for that, but also, because I wanted to practice getting in the Presence in front of people. Now, the Lord is wanting to take it a step further in saying, that at all times, I am to go to the secret place—whether that means when I am literally in the secret place or on a stage.

What I have learned lately, is that yes, I can be a worship leader, and I can be good at it. I can play the role, please the people, and not even hate it. But I’m not called to the role, I’m called to the Presence; and as much as I myself want argue with this thought, I believe that if I allow the Lord to take me into His Presence—He will change the people. He will lead them into worship. I’ve seen this, I’ve experienced it.

Please don’t misunderstand me. I’m NOT saying it is wrong to be a worship leader. Nope, I most definitely believe there are people that are called to that. I am saying that I am realizing that I am simply a worshipper. And that is enough. This doesn’t mean, I won’t lead songs at church, no I don’t believe the Lord is calling me off the stage at all, at least not physically.

I am stripping off the expectation that others have put on me and that I have put on myself. I don’t have to “wow” the crowd every time I open my mouth. I don’t have to sing all the hard notes. I don’t need to feel pressure to hear a new spontaneous song every time. I just need to simply come with the authenticity of my heart, letting the smile of Abba define me, allowing Love Himself to wash over me, and come out through me— and I believe if I do this, then He will come… in, over and through all those whose hearts are open to Him.

I’ve heard it said that different worship leaders carry different things, different anointing, and I have often asked the Lord what it is that I carry. But ya know, I just don’t care anymore. Because more than anything I just want to carry what people need. And people need Him, more than they need to hear me sing.

I’ve been thinking lately about true worship, and I think true worship creates space. Space for the Father to speak, breathe, move, heal, define. I want to carry Him, His Presence, His heart, His agenda. It does not and should not ever point to a person—only Jesus, only the Father.

So, this is who I am, please don’t expect anything more. I’ll only let you down. But if you must expect something, expect Him—in whatever, form He may choose to come. Expect that when you open your own mouth and bring an offering of praise, a brokenness in spirit, an authentic heart, that He will respond. Expect that there is a song within you that isn’t just the one on the screen. Expect that with one voice and as one body we are joining with the angels and saints and all of heaven. And expect that He is singing over you new songs of hope, of joy, of redemption, of purpose, of peace, of love, and ALL of life!

PS: And no, I’m not just talking about music.