Rich People – Poor People

Hand giving moneyI grew up what many would consider poor. We didn’t have a lot of things that money can buy. We did, however, have a lot of things in our family that others didn’t have. We had lots of love. We were taught strong values. I remember one Christmas; our family was a recipient of gifts from one of the civic clubs in town. I believe that poor is a matter of perspective and attitude, but broke is the state of my bank account. I see now that we were really rich. After going several places in the world – Africa, Mexico and Nicaragua – we were definitely wealthy.

I’ve had the opportunity recently to get to know some people who are really wealthy. They are humble, loving and kind people. I believe that they realize that they are very blessed by the Lord to have what they have.

Jesus speaks to a rich man, who loved his riches. After the man walked away from Jesus, the Lord said some strong words about rich people. Check this out….

23 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “I tell you the truth, it is very hard for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. 24 I’ll say it again—it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!” (Matthew 19:23-24 NLT)

I am helping facilitate a class called Financial Peace at our church. I’m reminded that money does what I tell it to do. It is hard to break bad habits – period. It seems harder to break bad money habits. Managing every dollar takes great discipline. I must practice delayed gratification. Dave Ramsey says, “Live like no one else now and you’ll soon be able to live & give like no one else”. (My Paraphrase).

I want to be a good giver in God’s Kingdom. I want to be known as a generous person. I want to be wealthy to be used by the Lord. I want to ALWAYS be grateful to the Lord for all I have. I want to be rich in spiritual values. I’m ok if I can build up some savings and retirement, while being a good giver too. I understand that the Lord really owns all that I have – I’m simply a manager of His resources.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

What Do You Want?

22all-i-want-is-just-to-know-your-heart-and-would-you-keep-me-here-until-were-one

Blog by Kristen Hicks

What do I want? Is this a question I am allowed to ask? Honestly, I’m not sure. I’m torn. You see, there are a few instances I can find in Scripture when Jesus asked this question, but to what degree was He asking?

Voices. I feel like there are 1 million voices telling me something different; this person believes this, that person believes that still another believes something totally different. All believe their way is right. All believe they know the truth.

I got the opportunity to hear Bob Goff speak a couple weeks ago and he was asking this question. He followed up with several other questions like, “Why do you do what you do? Are you willing to do what it takes to get what you want? What do you already have to get what you want?”

Then there is this book I’m reading, “Present Over Perfect” by Shauna Niequist. She writes, “Essentially, what I’m talking about, what I’m circling ever nearer to is agency. Or maybe authority; owning one’s life, for better and for worse, saying out loud, ‘This is who I am, this is who I’m not, this is what I want. This is what I’m leaving behind.’… You get to tell the truth about what you love and who you are and what you dream about…. What I’m learning is that you have to stop doing a whole lot of things to learn what it is you really love, who it is you really are…. You get to make your life. In fact, you have to. And not only can you make it, you can remake it.”

Still another voice running through my head is in the scriptures: “If you want to be my disciple, you must hate everyone else by comparison—your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple. And if you do not carry your own cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple. But don’t begin until you count the cost… so you cannot become my disciple without giving up everything you own.” (Luke 14:26-28a; 33)

The easy answer sounds like it would be the passage of scripture is the right voice. But the thing about it is, whose voice am I hearing speak it? It seems filtered, misinterpreted. The voice I am hearing speak this passage is condescending, harsh, and without grace. There is a tone, in it that isn’t gentle. It’s the tone that speaks, “You are never enough. You will never measure up. If you don’t get it together, I am done with you.” Can that be Jesus?

There seems to be a word that constantly has a lie attached to it… should. “You should spend more time in the Word. You should pray more. You should be witnessing. Should, should, should, should.” You get the idea. You’ve heard it spoken. This word produces shame. Every. Single. Time. Shame is of the enemy, not God. Its agenda is to literally make you run—run from God, run from people. Hide. Quit.

The voice of God NEVER produces shame. 

This is something to know— to be confident in— to believe Him. 

The truth is, I don’t know the truth. I know it doesn’t make sense that I don’t know. I know that some of you think I think too much— that I can’t let stuff go. But you must know this; what I don’t want is just to survive this one, very precious life I’ve been given. No, that isn’t on my bucket list. I am well aware that the enemy is trying to steal, kill and destroy me. In fact, I am so well aware, that I am convinced that one of his greatest weapons is to convince me that I can manage my behavior— that I can push down thoughts, stifle my emotions, and pretend that I’m good. But what kind of life is that? Is that the life of abundance that Jesus promised?

What I really want, is I want to LIVE, REALLY LIVE!! Live in fullness! Live in wholeness! Live healed! Live knowing without any doubt of who He is and being confident of who I am in Him! Live without fear! Live in freedom! I want to find the pieces that I’ve lost- those that the enemy stole from me! I want to actually believe Jesus! I want to know Him! His heart! His Ways! His thoughts! His Word! THIS IS WHAT I WANT!!!! I feel like I’m screaming it at the top of my lungs and no sound is coming out. No one can hear me!!!!

This isn’t something you just attain, this isn’t something you can just do just because someone tells you to. There is process. Yes, it sounds like a simple answer, but just because something is simple doesn’t make it easy. And the truth is, I’m not there yet. But I’m trying. I’m asking my questions, I am seeking out the heart of God. I’m trying to be real and vulnerable about where I’m at, even if I get misunderstood, shut down, or turned away. I honestly, just feel like most of the time, I’m just begging for someone to listen. Not fix. Not pity. Not bombard me with their opinions or bark the word “should” in my face. I get that I talk a lot, I know sometimes my thoughts are too heavy and burdensome. But it’s how I get somewhere, how I understand, how I overcome.

Please stop putting me in places that I’ve never, ever been. Stop making me feel like I “should” have it all together when I’m literally hanging on by a thread. The truth is, I’m begging for someone, somewhere out there to teach me, to walk WITH me, and not have me completely labeled in expectation.

What do I want? I just want Him… I just really, really want Him… That’s it. That is why I am the way that I am. This is the truth of who I am. This is why I do what I do. This is why I get way too excited about Jesus conversations that apparently make others feel inadequate or threatened. That is actually the exact opposite of what I’m trying to do. I’m just trying to learn. To process with you. Because I know that when I process with people we get there quicker. I want Him. In, through, before, behind, just all the way around, just Him— in everything that comes out of me and my life, just Him— in my friendships, in my marriage one day, in my jobs, how I spend my time, all of it, just Him. He is what I want.

Let’s Get Together

I love connecting with my family and friends. I generally like people, for the most part. I have met some people that were difficult to get along with. I struggle with people who are rude and have a condescending attitude toward me or others. I struggle with people who are arrogant and “snooty”. I am drawn to people who are humble and full of kindness. I also like people who are unselfish and interested in others instead of only talking about themselves.

Jesus spoke to His disciples plainly about relationships inside the church. He gave them instructions about dealing with disputes and broken relationships. He had just advised them that the greatest in the kingdom is like a humble little child. He then gives one more additional thought that I really needed. Check this out…

19 “I also tell you this: If two of you agree here on earth concerning anything you ask, my Father in heaven will do it for you. 20 For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them.” (Matthew 18:19-20 NLT)

I have a few friends that I like to connect with on a regular basis. We often gather over coffee and catch up with one another. I find it relaxing to enjoy some coffee and conversation. It’s crucial to be open and vulnerable with the truth. I’m not trying to protect my image, I’m really wanting to continue building a deeper relationship where The Lord is at the center.  Jesus takes it a step farther and says that when two or three gather together, He is among us. He also says that if we pray about something in agreement, our Father in heaven will do it for us. I want to make sure that I’m asking others to join me in prayer. It’s way more powerful when lots of us pray.

I think our gatherings on Sunday at church are really important for prayer, praise, & preaching and teaching. I want to know more about the Lord. Others perspective about a passage of the Bible that we read together can be very insightful. Life is much better if we make connections with others and join together in prayer and Bible study.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Drastic Difference

Be DifferentI’ve met people who are way different than I am. Years ago, I had the privilege to travel to Europe on my way to Zambia, Africa. I was just a young man from Kentucky who had never been on an airplane, much less traveled to other countries. I loved seeing so many different things and engaging with so many different people. I wish I knew then what I know now and I would have learned a lot more on the trip. The people is Brussels were very cool. The people in Zambia were also very sweet people. I have a few photos of me on the trip. My favorite one is with me surrounded by some of people who I had the privilege of teaching about the life of Jesus. I think different is a bit underrated.  Conforming to be like everyone else is way overrated, in my opinion.

Jesus took three of His closest disciples with Him up on a mountain and they were not expecting what they saw. They knew Jesus was different, but what they saw and heard changed them too. Check this out….

1Six days later Jesus took Peter and the two brothers, James and John, and led them up a high mountain to be alone. As the men watched, Jesus’ appearance was transformed so that his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as light. Suddenly, Moses and Elijah appeared and began talking with Jesus.

Peter exclaimed, “Lord, it’s wonderful for us to be here! If you want, I’ll make three shelters as memorials—one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”

But even as he spoke, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy. Listen to him.”The disciples were terrified and fell face down on the ground. (Matthew 17:1-6 NLT)

I’m sure the disciples could not believe their eyes what was happening. Then the voice of God on top of all that. I think I would have been a bit frightened too.  I don’t think those three disciples ever forgot what they saw and heard. I believe that they were different for the rest of their lives. Jesus asked them not to talk about it until He had been raised from the dead.

I believe that I am changed when I’m with the Lord. I believe I’m changed when I spend time alone with Him. He has made a drastic difference in my life. He has changed my relationship with my wife, my children, my grandchildren, my friends, my clients who become my friends. I see everyone I meet differently because I’ve been with the Lord and He changed everything about me. I have become so thankful and grateful for His Presence in my life. I have become so thankful and aware of how He wants me to treat others. I am still growing to become more like Him. I want people to notice a drastic difference in me because I’ve been with the Lord. I’ve seen Him and I’ve heard from Him.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Net Worth

Whats Your Net Worth Question Total Wealth Value AccountingI remember a time several years ago when I was planning to borrow money for a business venture. I sat down with the lender and he gave me an extensive loan application. The application was used to determine my net worth including any assets and liabilities that I had financially. The lender was a personal friend, but he also needed to assess the financial facts from me to determine whether or not the bank would back me financially. I was pretty new to the business world at the time and really learned lots about my financial picture by going through this process.  I watched a lot of good people suffer profound financial loss through the recession that started around 2007.  I remember lots of conversations with the Lord about how to navigate such a financially difficult time.

I learned during financial duress, just how blessed I am as a husband, dad, son and friend to others. No matter how much a struggle or how much suffering I encountered, I could find someone who was suffering deeper and harder than me. I believe so much of my life is about maintaining perspective. I’m living for someone and something way more valuable than the wealthiest person on earth. Check this out….

24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me. 25 If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. 26 And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul? (Matthew 16:24-26 NLT)

When the Lord looks at my net worth, He doesn’t look at the financial picture. He looks at my heart. He looks at the fruit of my life. He looks at my actions because they reveal my heart. I can fake people out about my faith, but I can’t fake the Lord out. He knows the deepest crevasses of my heart. He wants me to surrender all of me to Him. He wants my life to be subject to Him leading me. God’s economy is quite different than the US economy. When I give and give up – I have huge gains. When I surrender and give up my life, my value increases exponentially in eternal net worth.  I do watch my financial picture and I look at things a lot differently since struggling through the recession. I am a huge fan of Financial Peace by Dave Ramsey. I see my financial resources as belonging to the Lord – I am a manager of all that I have. It’s all His. I want to be wise with the all that I have been blessed with. I want to be a wise manager of His resources. At the end of my life, I will not be worried about taking anything gained here on the earth with me, but I want my family and friends to know about investing in eternity. I want others to know that this life is not all there is. This life is preparation for eternity and I’m building an eternal net worth that is way more valuable than anything I could do or attain here on earth.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Customs & Traditions

Chapel In New EnglandI grew up in a small church in South Central Kentucky. I remember that we had about 75 people each Sunday when things were going well. We had our way of doing things for sure. I remember that we sang three songs from the Hymnal then a prayer song, communion, offering, sermon, invitation song, closing prayer, closing song. You could count on this same schedule of events each week. We also had about five men in the church who would publicly pray. One guy, Mr. Webb, would recite the same prayer each time he was asked to pray. I can almost recite that prayer some 40 years later. We always wore our “Sunday best”. We never “dressed down” to go to church. Looking back, we had traditions that seemed more important than where my heart was. I served in one church where one of the leaders got so frustrated that a young man wore a hat in the church on a Wednesday evening that the young man was actually asked to leave.  We created customs and traditions that are far from being scriptural, but because “we’ve always done it that way” it becomes “code” in our place of worship.

I believe that some traditions and customs frustrate the Lord. He cares way more about people’s heart than the clothes on their back or a hat on their head. He cares deeply that our seeking Him is genuine. He wants our worship to be way more than words that we sing beautifully. He wants our heart totally devoted to Him.

What if the church just gathered for a time of intense prayer – no music or sermon?

What if the church gathered for simple Bible Study and prayer in a bar rather than a fancy building?

We have made our faith in God much to do with tradition that we drowned out the call of God upon our hearts. We are so busy doing things for God that we can’t hear Him gently call upon our heart.

Jesus called out the Pharisees and really ticked them off with His comments. Check this out….

And so you cancel the word of God for the sake of your own tradition. You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you, for he wrote,

‘These people honor me with their lips,
    but their hearts are far from me.
Their worship is a farce,
    for they teach man-made ideas as commands from God.’”

19 For from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, all sexual immorality, theft, lying, and slander. 20 These are what defile you. Eating with unwashed hands will never defile you.” (Matthew 15:6b-9; 19-20 NLT)

I’m not trying to say that all traditions and customs are bad. I am saying that if they draw more attention themselves rather than to the Lord, they should be removed immediately. I have asked the Lord to forgive me many times when I faked my worship because of tradition and customs of the church, rather than repentance of my sin.

The Lord cares way more about my heart than anything else I could possibly do or say. He want my heart to be open, shapeable, moldable and pure before Him. The words I speak and the actions I choose reveal exactly what is going on in my heart. He helps me daily with cleaning up my heart and pushing back on man-made traditions & customs that have become meaningless to my heart.

Pressing On!

Dwayne