Actions Speak

 

Core ValuesI remember as a young boy I was told that “actions speak louder than words”. I have learned that axiom to be true over the years. There are some folks who “talk a good game”, but their actions don’t back up their talk. Others don’t talk much, but they give and serve “behind the scenes”.  That is precisely where I want to be. I’m not shy when it comes to speaking about my faith, but I want my words to always be back-up by action.

Paul is writing a short letter to another of his young protégé’s in the faith. He is giving him some encouragement and back story about leading the church in Crete. Check this out…

 15 To the pure, everything is pure, but to those who are defiled and unbelieving nothing is pure; in fact, both their mind and conscience are defiled. 16 They claim to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, and unfit for any good work. (Titus 1:15-16 CSB)

Our church is moving through a series of messages called: “Intentional Acts of Kindness”. I believe it’s very biblical to intentionally be kind to others. My faith directs me to love like the Lord loves. My faith directs me to serve others. My faith directs me to show my faith by the activities of my life. I want my life to display my faith before I ever say anything about my faith. My actions should be directed by my faith and should never contradict my faith. My actions are making my faith real – it’s not philosophical or theoretical – my faith is practical and lived out. If I say that I have faith, but my actions don’t support that, then I’m a liar or a hypocrite and I’m fooling myself. The life God calls His kids to lead is not complex, but simple. It’s not always easy, but it is simple obedience and trust.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

The Song I Want to Feast On

A man walking towards a cross with sunbeams

Blog by Kristen Hicks

Can we talk really quick about how many times I have written this first line and then erased it? It was a few. I am struggling. I know lately I’ve talked about how I am in this season of wrestling with the Lord… on everything, but the place I am finding myself in at this moment, is more like I’m just holding on. I’m not even trying to win anymore. Because I know I’m gonna lose. And deep down, I know that losing this insane wrestling match is actually a victory.

“I can’t do this anymore.” That is the phrase that keeps echoing in my head. It has so many layers to it, so many meanings, so many depths. “I just can’t, not like this. Not in this way.” Because truth be told, I’m not even sure if I believe this anymore. It seems to have gotten twisted, misinterpreted, become about something that it was never supposed to be about.

It feels like a crossroads, or rather a balancing act, like I’m walking on a type-rope and if I step to the left or the right, I will face sudden death. How did I get here? The more I wrestle, the more I realize how I have no idea who the One I’m wrestling with actually is, nor what He is doing. And that, I am learning, is exactly why I’m in this vulnerable position.

Have you ever been in this place? The place where you are begging the Lord to tear you down and then build you back up the right way. Or like I told Him yesterday, “Can you just cut me down and grow me back up the way I’m supposed to be?” I’m not sure one would even call it correction. Nope, I think the more suitable term is annihilation.

I can see the Light, the dawn that is breaking forth before me, behind me and inside me. And I am determined to hang on. I WILL NOT LET GO of the One that I know without a doubt in my mind, has the blessing on the tip of His tongue. Don’t misunderstand me, the blessing I am seeking is not greed, it is not power, it is not fame or fortune, in fact it has nothing to do with anything that this world can offer me.

It is simply an identity. A name change. Not for anyone else to know but me.

In the secret place, in the most Holy of Holy place, in the intimacy of where my spirit, soul, and body collide together and come into agreement with LOVE Himself. This is what I’m holding on to. This is what I’m seeking. I am staring intently at His face as I put one foot in front of the other, to make it across the threshold of death.

Hope. Hope is in His eyes. NOT fear. He is sure, He is certain that I will make it. The more I stare at Him I can feel His Spirit calling, whispering, singing into me. Trust is building within me. Confidence is surrounding me. Faith and Truth are holding onto me. The more I stare the more I know… I KNOW I AM HIS! 

With every step, my theology shifts, my perspective changes, my thoughts become clear, my heart beats louder, stronger because it can feel the Presence of the One in whom it beats for getting closer.

This is no ordinary encounter, this is different. You see, a couple days ago I asked the Lord to show me my convictions. You know, those things deep inside of me that I know, that I know, that I know.

It shocked me. It has nothing to do with doctrine or systems. It has nothing to do with what others around me believe. It isn’t complicated. It has nothing to do with the times we are in, nor what I think church should look like. It has nothing to do with the season even; nor whether or not I identify this place as a storm, a pit, a wilderness, or a cave. No, none of that really matters. It has nothing to do with authority, gifts, talents, or positions I might have. It’s not a puzzle, or something to figure out, or need an answer on. It has nothing to do with how much pain, tragedy, mistakes, sorrow, circumstance I have gone through. None of this matters when it comes to the conviction in my heart.

It is simple. So simple that a child understands it. And the truth is, I CAN’T DO THIS ANYMORE!!! Not when LOVE IS STARING ME RIGHT IN THE FACE!!!!

The conviction is this: HE. LOVES. ME. Period. End of story. There is NO question to this statement. No confusion. No theology. No perspective. No doctrine. No person. NOTHING! Nothing can come against this!!!

I’m DONE making it about ME! Or making it about someone else. I’m done making it hard. I’m done making it complicated. Because HE is WORTHY of so much more than that!!! He is worthy of a Bride that is IN LOVE WITH HIM, just for WHO HE IS!!! Not one that is love with with what He can do! He is worthy of a Bride that sees His eyes. Sees His heart. Sees is intentions. And sees HIS WORTH and can’t help to inhale HIS LOVE and exhale HIS PRAISE!!!!!  Not one that lives in FEAR of what He might do. But believes, BELIEVES, whole-hearted that HE IS GOOD!!!! In ALL things!!!!

Can I please just stop making it about me? Can I please start knowing my place as a CHILD of God? And all that that means, all the promise that that holds, all the direction, all the hope, all the LOVE, all the intention and position of what that means.

I feel like Paul a little bit right now when he said:

“The very credentials these people are waving around as something special, I’m tearing up and throwing out with the trash- along with everything I used to take credit for. And why? Because of Christ. Yes, all the things I once thought were so important are gone from my life. Compared to the high privilege of knowing Christ Jesus as my Master, firsthand, everything I once thought I had going for me is insignificant- dog dung. I’ve dumped it all in the trash so that I could embrace Christ and be embraced by Him. I didn’t want some petty inferior brand of righteousness that comes from keeping a list of rules when I could get the robust kind that comes from TRUSTING Christ- God’s righteousness.” 

-Philippians 3:7-9 MSG

Please hear my heart. I am not trying to vent, or hash out my feelings on a platform. I am simply just trying to remember!!! Remember my FIRST LOVE. Remember what it was like to JUST LOVE JESUS. Remember the simplicity of Him and His heart and what He came to do. I want to KNOW Him. More than I know anyone else in my entire life. And I want to love Him with ALL that I am. I want to be a part of His story, not fit Him into mine. This is my heart. This is the conviction I want to cultivate, to live out, to die for, and to live for. THIS IS THE SONG I WANT TO FEAST ON!

But The Lord

 

Man Sitting On Bench During A Beautiful SunsetI realize that this title is not really a “stand-alone” title. These three words jumped off the page of scripture as I ready this morning. I was tracking along with some of my favorite passages that Paul had written to Timothy, the young pastor. For example…

Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; rebuke, correct, and encourage with great patience and teaching. (2 Timothy 4:2 CSB)

 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. There is reserved for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on that day, and not only to me, but to all those who have loved his appearing. (2 Timothy 4:7-8 CSB)

I love how Paul is finishing strong. He is encouraging this young pastor to keep the faith no matter what comes his way. He is writing this from prison as Paul has a deep heart for the churches that he’s been part of planting. He’s making the “hand-off” to others as his time on earth ends.

He gives some final “house-keeping” info to Timothy and it was here that the three words stopped me in my tracks. Paul is describing a court hearing in Rome, I believe and he had no one present to stand with him or speak on his behalf. Check this out…

16 At my first defense, no one stood by me, but everyone deserted me. May it not be counted against them. 17 But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that I might fully preach the word and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth. 18 The Lord will rescue me from every evil work and will bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever! Amen. (2 Timothy 4:16-18 CSB)

But the Lord – those three words changed the scene entirely. I can be at the end of my rope and the Lord’s Presence is near. He doesn’t leave me at the crucial time. He doesn’t forget me. I would suggest that even if everyone else leaves, He won’t. He is faithful and true. He is patient beyond description. His Presence changes the ambiance of the room. His Presence ushers in hope with a profound entrance. His Presence calms my soul and directs my thoughts and actions. His Presence drowns out the noise of fear and chaos. But the Lord…. This is going from worst to first. But the Lord is Powerful and Present. But the Lord is all knowing. I would rather being in the scariest places with the Presence of the Lord in me, then to be on the beach or relaxing anywhere without Him.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Inspiration

Grace AND Truth

I am inspired by the stories of people who have gone before me. I am reading a book called “The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill: Defender of the Realm, 1940-1965” It is about the long and storied history of Churchill’s leadership during the World War II era. The hardship that he and the people of England faced was very hard and very real, but they emerged in great strength through the hardships. Churchill was an inspirational leader. He was a motivator. He was a thinker. He had his weird moments. He inspired others by his speeches, writings, but most of all his leadership. Great leaders inspire others to follow their lead.

The Apostle Paul in writing to Timothy is encouraging his young protégé by writing to remind Timothy of his journey thus far. It is often helpful to reflect on where we’ve been to truly appreciate where we are today. Paul closes out one of the chapters by reminding Timothy that tough times are ahead. He reminds him that there will be opposition and persecution. He gives some strong counsel to Timothy in the face of trouble. These words inspired me many years ago and I was reminded of the significance of The Word as I read these words. Check this out…

14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and firmly believed. You know those who taught you, 15 and you know that from infancy you have known the sacred Scriptures, which are able to give you wisdom for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, 17 so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:14-17 CSB)

I think I was around 14 years of age when I gave my first message to the little church I grew up attending in Casey Creek, KY. I remember being encouraged by this passage of scripture that talks about its value to my life. I can’t say that I had a daily discipline of reading scripture every day, but I am thankful that the Lord spoke into my heart and used His Word to build me and equip me for whatever was ahead for me. My journey has most definitely had struggles and hardship, but God’s Word kept speaking into my life. The Word teaches, rebukes, corrects and trains me. I am inspired to keep reading The Word as I live out my life, because I feel Him speak directly into my heart. Reading His Word daily doesn’t make me anyone special, but I’m reminded and inspired to keep surrendering my heart to Him and the peace that only He can give settles into my soul.

I want to live my life inspired by God’s Word. I want to lead my family inspired by God’s Word. I want my career to continually be inspired by God’s Word – His character, His Wisdom for my life. The journey of my life has been profoundly influenced and directed by my daily discovery of God’s heart found in scripture

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Wise Mentoring

 

Mentoring Concept.Mentoring is a word that I’ve noticed a lot in business. Mentors are considered wise and trusted counselors or teachers. Mentors have gone ahead of others and are happy to share the path to their success or accomplishment. Mentors do not have to know the people they mentor. For example, Zig Ziglar mentored me through his writings and his speeches. He spoke truth with such passion that I couldn’t help but take it in. Most recently, I’m being mentored by Jim Rohn, a philosopher/teacher and “self-help” guru. We have access to many mentors in our world today thanks to the internet and books. I also seek to be mentored by the Apostle Paul who wrote most the New Testament scripture. The scripture has another name for mentoring – discipleship. Paul’s letters to Timothy are great examples of discipleship/mentoring. Check this out….

22 Flee from youthful passions, and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. 23 But reject foolish and ignorant disputes, because you know that they breed quarrels. 24 The Lord’s servant must not quarrel, but must be gentle to everyone, able to teach, and patient, 25 instructing his opponents with gentleness. Perhaps God will grant them repentance leading them to the knowledge of the truth. 26 Then they may come to their senses and escape the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will. (2 Timothy 2:22-26 CSB)

I think discipleship and mentoring are similar but different. Mentoring seems a bit more philosophical while discipleship seems to be practical. Discipleship is a concept from scripture that is displayed in the life of Jesus himself. He invests three years in a discipleship/mentor role with 12 men that He chose. His impact on the world was lived out in those relationships. I would suggest that all the events surrounding Judas departure and subsequent death were used in teaching and mentoring the remaining 11.

I think the discipleship/mentoring relationship can be narrowed down to three important characteristics:

  1. Generosity – the leader who chooses to disciple/mentor must be generous with their time to those they are investing in. They need to be accessible.
  2. Honesty – this is a not necessarily a “feel good” relationship. I’m not a fan of “participation trophy’s”. A mentor must be honest and speak the truth – not with a hateful spirit, but of genuine concern to see growth.
  3. Discretion – there must be a level of confidentiality and trust to be completely real, vulnerable and honest in the mentor/discipleship relationship. There is not one perfect and without out struggle, we often just manage those things differently.

I’m reading some great books that are mentoring me in life and business. I’m also ready the Word of God daily to become a more devoted disciple of Jesus. I want to help others to know the things I’ve tried that didn’t work. I want to keep growing deeper in my faith with wisdom and discernment as I get older and even more experienced in life. I love Paul’s counsel to Timothy about fleeing youthful passions and run from disputes and quarrels. I want to be a steady, faithful disciple of The Lord who teaches with my life and not just my words.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Recall – Remind – Rekindle

Memo with Paper Clip - rememberWhen I think back about my life and my journey of faith, it must include my grandmother, Gladys Greer (aka Mammie). She was a dear lady who loved the Lord and I can still remember her big Bible near her chair in the living room of her house. She studied it often. She had a Bible that was falling apart, but her life wasn’t’ because her deep faith gave purpose and helped her navigate any situation in life. She passed her faith on to my Mom and then to me. I have quite a heritage of faith. I find myself praying for my kids that they will know the Lord. I want them to see the Lord in my life.

The Apostle Paul was writing a second letter to his young protégé Timothy. I can feel the emotional connection between the two. He is connecting Timothy’s journey today with his journey of faith in the past. Check this out…

I recall your sincere faith that first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and now, I am convinced, is in you also.

Therefore, I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but one of power, love, and sound judgment. (2 Timothy 1:5-7 CSB)

I love the encouragement from Paul. I can take that into my heart and my life today. I need to recall my journey. I need to be reminded of all that the Lord has done in my life. I must daily rekindle the Holy Spirit that is in me. I can be strong and bold as I face challenges in life because I recall, I’m reminded and I’m rekindling the fire that is in me.

I also love the last line of this passage – it’s almost a “because” passage. I can recall, remind and rekindle BECAUSE the Lord has given me “a spirit of power, love and sound judgement”. I’m brimming with confidence because of His Power in me. This perspective shapes and remakes my perspective on everything in my life. I can face any challenge in my life, because the Creator lives in me and lives through me.

I think it’s healthy to revisit my journey often and realize that I’m standing on the shoulders of faith of my grandmother and my parents. I’m also standing on the shoulders of Paul, Timothy, Peter, James and John to name a few. I want to recall, be reminded and rekindle the Spirit of God in my life.

Pressing On!

Dwayne