Faithful Follower

Man praying with the BibleI grew up knowing about the Lord from my parents and grandparents. I was introduced to the scriptures at a young age. My family went to church twice on Sunday and also on Wednesday for mid-week Bible Study. I lived off the faith of my parents and grandparents for several years. I remember when I realized that some of the church traditions that I held were challenged. I went to a Bible College in East Tennessee and there were people there from all over the world. Some of the traditions that I held on to were not found in scripture. The traditions were from people who were following Jesus. After a while, the traditions were taught as truth from God’s Word. I have a lot of opinions about all sorts of things that are being taught as truth, but the Word of God is enough to raise of the people of God. The traditions were never intended to be impediments to the truth, but that is what they have become.  Many religions have multiple traditions as well as churches today. I want to have a strong relationship with God – if that makes me “religious”, I don’t mind. I don’t want to be religious just for the sake of being good. I want to faithfully follow Creator God and learn more and more of His heart through the study of His Word and being committed to a church filled with fellow followers.

On more than one occasion, Jesus challenged the “religion leaders” and “teachers of the law”. They believed that the Messiah was coming, but this is a colossal case of missing the point. They not only didn’t believe Him, they killed Him.  Check out this encounter with them…

28 “But what do you think about this? A man with two sons told the older boy, ‘Son, go out and work in the vineyard today.’ 29 The son answered, ‘No, I won’t go,’ but later he changed his mind and went anyway. 30 Then the father told the other son, ‘You go,’ and he said, ‘Yes, sir, I will.’ But he didn’t go.

31 “Which of the two obeyed his father?”

They replied, “The first.”

Then Jesus explained his meaning: “I tell you the truth, corrupt tax collectors and prostitutes will get into the Kingdom of God before you do. 32 For John the Baptist came and showed you the right way to live, but you didn’t believe him, while tax collectors and prostitutes did. And even when you saw this happening, you refused to believe him and repent of your sins. (Matthew 21:28-32 NLT)

While I grew up in church, I’m thankful that the Lord has been patient with me as I discovered Him and heard His call upon my heart. I’ve learned more about His heart simply by reading the Word every day and asking Him to speak into my heart. If I can have time to eat, I have time for His Word. If I have time to watch a television show, I have time for His Word. Over the years of spending time in His Word, I really miss my time with Him, if I miss even one day. I believe He’s drawn me nearer His heart as I’ve searched the Word for His heart. I want to be a faithful follower of God all the days of my life. I want to be obedient to His call upon my life and upon my heart even today. I don’t want to ever get so bogged down with doing things for Him that I skip my time just being with Him in His Word listening to Him speak into my heart.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

A Different Leader

Waiter with trayI have served under a lot of different leaders in my work life. I have known insecure leaders, who always need to share their title or profession, which they hope to set the tone for authority for them. I have also served under leaders who were strong leaders beyond their title, but they simple served with respect and humility. After learning of their title and seeing first-hand how they lead, I was profoundly influenced. Leaders without followers are not leaders. I remember Charles Barkley resisting the “leadership role” he was in by nature of his celebrity status. I believe our world is starving for servant leaders. Servant leaders are not insecure. Servant leaders are secure in who they are and what they bring to the table. Servant leaders inspire me. Some people use their power to influence others – while servant leaders use service to influence. Servant leaders care deeply about the people they are leading. Jesus called His disciples to servant leadership. It’s not about titles and positions of power – it’s about leading from a place of service. Check this out….

24 When the ten other disciples heard what James and John had asked, they were indignant. 25 But Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. 26 But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave. 28 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:24-28 NLT)

I have had the opportunity to lead our real estate company for the past seven-plus years. It is an honor to lead from place of service. It’s a bit counter cultural to lead while serving. I see the real estate industry as a profession of service. We serve buyers and sellers of real property. We seek to protect them and provide counsel to them in each conversation. I want to learn and grow in my depth of service to my clients and customers. I believe that every profession where the leader is a Christ follower is in a position of serving others.  I believe that the “servant leader” is way more effective that the “authoritarian leader” who barks orders. Jesus set a profound example of servant leadership – I would be wise to keep following His example.

I was really inspired by the Clay Scroggins Podcast on Entreleadership recently. Clay reminds us to:

  1. Lead Yourself
  2. Choose Positivity
  3. Reject Passivity
  4. Think Critically

Pressing On!

Dwayne

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