Wishful & Hopeful

Man Sitting On Bench During A Beautiful SunsetWishful involves want and desire. Hopeful also involves want or desire, but has the ingredient of expectation. Optimism involves both words. I am generally an optimistic person, but I also try to be a realist. I don’t have to be hopeful about doing something I already know how to do – I can be hopeful about improvement. I play guitar, for example – there is always room for improvement and I’m still growing with my instrument. Hopefully I can get better, but it’s wishful thinking if I don’t even attempt to improve.

I wish everyone could know the Lord and walk their life out with Him. I want others to know the peace that His Presence brings. I know that there are some who’ve “written me off” for my faith. I’m ok with that. But I hope that they will one day see that this is not just some goofy idea that I or someone else came up with. There is a Creator and He loves His creation (all of us) and He longs for a relationship with us.

Paul makes a passionate plea in his second letter to the church in Corinth. Check this out…

14 For the love of Christ compels us, since we have reached this conclusion: If one died for all, then all died. 15 And he died for all so that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for the one who died for them and was raised.

20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us. We plead on Christ’s behalf: “Be reconciled to God.” 21 He made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:14-15; 20-21 CSB)

While I wish, everyone knew the Lord, it doesn’t work to push my faith “in their face”. I’m always happy to discuss why I believe in the Lord. I am not ashamed of knowing the Lord and I don’t make apologies for my belief. My code of behavior comes from Him. My kindness comes from Him. My integrity comes from Him. My love for people comes from Him. My journey in His Word has helped put my convictions in concrete. I put these words from my journey because I’m hopeful that others will investigate this Love that God has for all of us.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Outside Inside

Female athleteThe people I know and work with every day are like me – they care about how they look on the outside. I think most people care about their outer appearance – it’s been proven on YouTube that some people really don’t care about their outer appearance. I’m learning to look past the outward person trying to discover their heart. The inside of a person is hidden. They may look healthy, but they could be sick and not know it. They can look beautiful outside, but inside they are miserable and hate filled. I believe if I’m around a person long enough I can see their heart. I know people who are not Christ followers who are nice and have good hearts. I’ve also seen people who would call themselves Christ followers but after being around them, I might wonder about their heart. I am not the “Lawgiver or Judge”, and I believe it’s very dangerous to pass judgement on a person’s heart – that is God’s territory. I can notice the actions of a person.  The inside of a person is more important than the outside.

 For God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of God’s glory in the face of Jesus Christ.

16 Therefore we do not give up. Even though our outer person is being destroyed, our inner person is being renewed day by day. 17 For our momentary light affliction is producing for us an absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory. 18 So we do not focus on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:6,16-18 CSB)

As my body gets older and my life gets longer, I need to keep renewing my heart. I want my heart to be refreshed and renewed each day. I believe as I invest in my heart that my “outside activities” will be a reflection of what is going on inside.

I’m not a “push over” or a “wimp”, but I want to remain calm in the midst of chaos. I want to think clearly in the face of conflict. I want to live my life from my heart where Jesus is Lord. I’m learning to be less concerned with what age is doing to my hair or my skin and focus on building and growing my heart. (Side Note: I do need to carve out time for cardio/exercise to keep my physical body going stronger and a bit longer.) My physical exercise can never replace my spiritual exercise.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Mirror Mirror

 

Young man dressing up and looking at mirrorI look at myself in the mirror in the morning and I must admit it’s scary. My hair is usually disheveled and I look old – wait I am relatively old. I’ve noticed a grayer goatee and my grayer sideburns. I’m not one to whine and moan about getting old, but it’s weird how sometimes when I look in the mirror, I feel like I look younger than others. The mirror is simply a reflection of what I look like, but it’s the perception of the reflection that dictates my behavior. I realize that is a mouthful.

I really want to see myself as the Lord sees me. I want to see myself as others see me. Paul began reflecting on the confidence we have because of Jesus who surpassed the law with the new covenant. If the law brought forth the glory of God in its time, how much more glory the grace that Jesus delivered. Check this out…

12 Since, then, we have such a hope, we act with great boldness. 

 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 We all, with unveiled faces, are looking as in a mirror at the glory of the Lord and are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory; this is from the Lord who is the Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:12,17-18 CSB)

I want to look in the mirror and see the Spirit of God in me. I want others to see Jesus in my actions and activities. I want my life to reflect the Word of God living in me. I want people to see my heart which is not physically visible, but is visible through my actions and activities.

As I spend time in the Word of God, He is shaping me and molding me to look more like Him than I currently look. I’m so thankful that He has saved me and is making me more like Him. All I must do is surrender to Him and then He gives me incredible freedom in return. I like the Lord’s mirror better than the ones I look at each day!

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Aroma

 

aromaI love being able to smell. There are times when my “smeller” isn’t functioning properly – allergy season, for example.

I love the smell of a new car.

I love the smell of a freshly painted room.

I love smell of wood at a new home being built.

I love the smell of a campfire.

There are so many aroma’s that I really enjoy. I also know the aroma’s that I don’t like. I’m not a fan of BO (aka body order) when a person needs a bath and a fresh coat of deodorant! I don’t like the smell of propane gas. I don’t like the smell of dirty feet. This list could get very long!

Paul, in his letter to the church at Corinth speaks of being an aroma for the Jesus movement. Check this out…

14 But thanks be to God, who always leads us in Christ’s triumphal procession and through us spreads the aroma of the knowledge of him in every place. 15 For to God we are the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. 16 To some we are an aroma of death leading to death, but to others, an aroma of life leading to life. Who is adequate for these things? (2 Corinthians 2:14-16 CSB)

My life is to be a sweet-smelling aroma to the Lord and certainly to others.

My words should have a pleasant aroma before the Lord and others.

My actions should exhibit a pleasing aroma to the Lord and those who know me.

I want my life to have the aroma of Jesus always. I want there to be an aroma of hope that comes from being around me. I want my life to have and aroma of love. I love the aroma from being in the Presence of God and I should carry that aroma throughout my day.

The Lord cares about aroma as I reflect on the old testament when He was giving instructions for sacrifices. He also had them to make anointing oil that was “pure, fragrant, and expertly blended incense”. (Exodus 37:29 CSB)

I want my attitude and actions to display a sweet-smelling aroma to the Lord and everyone I meet.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

#InvincibleSummer

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Invincible– “too powerful to be defeated or overcome.” A couple weeks ago I was at the beach with some friends and my friend Kourtney and I ended up coming across the same quote in two different pieces of reading material. It was:

“In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer. And that makes me happy. For it says that no matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there’s something stronger- something better, pushing right back.”

-Albert Camus

I wasn’t exactly sure what to think about this, to be totally honest. I didn’t get it to its full extent when I first read it. I sure didn’t understand why in the world the Lord was highlighting it the way He was.

Summer, though…I LOVE summer!!! Most people hate it because of the heat and I respect that. However, there is a certain vibe that comes with this season, a certain essence. It’s sings songs of freedom, fun, mystery and spontaneity. It seems like people are more likely to take risks, go on adventures and explore as though they were kids again. There is more wonder in their eyes, more fire in their bellies, and more passion in their hearts. For me at least, it just has a way of bringing out my true self. It has a way of making me want to dream, write, sing, dance, laugh, go everywhere and do everything all at the same time! I want to chase sunsets, go on drives, play in the mud, travel to places I’ve never been, and do things I’ve never done all in the name of “JUST FOR THE HECK OF IT.” It feels like there’s no boundaries and endless possibilities.

THIS IS SUMMER!!!

Monday was my 29th birthday! I have mentioned before in one of my blogs about how much I love dates, because they make things special and extraordinary. So my birthday is, well of course, one of my favorites. On Monday morning I got up, got ready, went to one of my favorite coffee shops and went for a short walk. I was just talking with Jesus and reflecting on why I love birthdays so much. (I’m one of those people that constantly examines myself, so I was really making sure that my motives weren’t selfish.) The tears began to fill my eyes as I thought about it. THIS was the day, that the Lord chose to breath HIS breath into me. THIS is the day that HE put HIS GRACE upon my life. THIS is the day that HE began to write my story into HIS. THIS is the day that HE chose for me to be born out of 365 days. And every single bit about THIS day 29 years ago mattered to Him. The date, the time, the year, the family I was born into. THIS is something way more beautiful, than getting a bunch of gifts, or cards, social media posts, cakes, parties….etc. THIS is a foundation of worship, a platform to praise, and the beginning of HIS GOODNESS and PEACE surpassing my own understanding.

Every year on my birthday I chose to do something I’ve never done. Or it might be something I have done and I just add a new twist to it. The difference between this day and every other day of the year is that I add purpose to it. Purpose that wakes me up. Purpose that not only encourages my spirit but it overflows from within me to everyone around me.

So what exactly is the Lord wanting me to understand about the INVINCIBLE SUMMER? I think He wants me to start looking at every day as if it’s my birthday. This world belongs to the enemy, therefore, its goal is to steal, kill, and destroy. In other words, it wants to steal your joy, your wonder, your spontaneity. It wants to kill your child-likeness, your faith, your dreams. It wants to destroy your relationships, your identity, your community, your courage, your hope, your peace. It wants to suck you in to a winter of despair, routines, circles of bondage, fear, numbness, and snuff out even the smallest flame still flickering inside you. It wants to take the abundance out of life. BUT….(I love THAT word)…. There is something within that is stronger, that is better!!! With every breath your take, HE is breathing HIS GRACE upon your life for you to realize that within you there is a purpose, a fire, a song, a story, there is destiny.

So I’m saying yes to allowing the invincible summer to begin within me. I’m saying yes to doing one thing every day differently than I’ve done before. And I am saying yes to allowing the Lord to bring forth purpose and ignite an invincible fire within me of HIS Spirit to pour out love, joy, laughter, spontaneous adventures, risks, and freedom to all those around me.

Suffering Struggles

quarreled couple in their living roomWhen I think back through my life at the struggles, I get a bit tired, yet inspired. I can now see the hand of God through the struggle. At the time of struggle, I couldn’t think straight and couldn’t see His perspective. I could only muddle through the suffering. I think suffering is one of the hardest realities that everyone battles – both the Christian follower and non-believer. Suffering is not a respecter of my faith. I believe that suffering is a result of a fallen world. I do not subscribe to the angle that God causes my suffering – for me that just doesn’t fit with what I know about Him. I do believe that could prevent or stop my suffering, but He doesn’t always choose to do that. This is a hard topic because when I revisit my struggles – even though they are in the rear-view mirror – it brings up a lot of painful memories.

Paul speaks about suffering in the opening chapter of his second letter to the church at Corinth. His writing has helped shape my view of suffering. Check this out…

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort. He comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any kind of affliction, through the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ overflow to us, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation. If we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings that we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that as you share in the sufferings, so you will also share in the comfort. (2 Corinthians 1:3-7 CSB)

I know people who have suffered more than I have. I know people who are in the middle of suffering right now. I don’t have all the answers for people in the middle of suffering, but I do know that the Lord never wastes times of suffering. I’ve learned more about His heart in the middle of my past experiences with suffering. When I’m on this side of suffering, it looks so different.

I know that one of the big wins in my personal sufferings is my ability to help others who are suffering. I have learned some life lessons in my suffering that I’m not sure I would have learned any other way. I started spending time in the Word of God many years ago and the Lord built into me some perspective and inner strength that I didn’t even know I had. My beliefs in Him are more solid today because of my sufferings in the past. I choose to trust Him with today and every day. During suffering and struggle, I choose to trust him. When I can’t see a good outcome, or ending to my suffering – I will still choose to trust Him.

This is not all that easy because suffering and struggle take its toll, but I will still trust Him with whatever comes my way. My faith is stronger because of struggle and suffering in my life. I hate to admit that, but it’s true. He never leaves me or forsakes me in the middle of struggle and suffering.

Pressing On

Dwayne