The Fruit of My Heart

Apple trees orchardI am not an expert on fruit trees. When I was a kid, we had an apple orchard. There are tasks to do to fruit trees to help them produce healthy fruit and become a healthy tree. For example, fruit trees need to fertilized and watered. Fruit trees also need to be pruned and treated for disease and insect infestation.  When cared for properly, fruit trees will bear beautiful fruit. Jesus compared our heart to a fruit tree in speaking to the Pharisees and religious leaders. Check this out….

33 “A tree is identified by its fruit. If a tree is good, its fruit will be good. If a tree is bad, its fruit will be bad. 34 You brood of snakes! How could evil men like you speak what is good and right? For whatever is in your heart determines what you say. 35 A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. 36 And I tell you this, you must give an account on judgment day for every idle word you speak. 37 The words you say will either acquit you or condemn you.” (Matthew 12:33-37 NLT)

I believe that my heart is the gateway to my soul. My heart is not necessarily the pump inside my chest. My heart is the emotional epicenter of me as a person. I believe that my heart needs to be involved in decision making because love comes from my heart more than my head. I think Jesus is teaching that behavior flows from the heart. I believe it’s super important to take care of my heart. My heart needs to be watered and fertilized with the Word of God. The very Spirit of God prunes my heart and treats for disease that can destroy my heart. I also realize that the Lord is the ONLY ONE Who truly knows everything about my heart and everything inside my heart. He’s also the ONLY ONE Who can heal my heart when it’s diseased, broken, or deeply damaged.  He created my physical heart and He created my spiritual heart. The fruit of my life reveals the condition & the depth of my heart. He has filled my heart with love, compassion, mercy & grace. It should overflow into every relationship I have on this planet.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Soul Rest

Man Sitting On Bench During A Beautiful SunsetI try to get to bed at a certain time range each evening. I believe that my morning begins the night before. I learned a long time ago that these two were intricately connected. There are some nights that rest comes so peacefully. There are other nights when for whatever reason, I don’t rest well. Sleep usually means rest, but rest doesn’t always mean sleep. I like my life to have a bit of rhythm. I don’t mean musically, although I love music. I like to have some routines and systems in place for my life. When I change up my routine, it takes a minute for the rhythm to return.

Jesus is teaching the people and He has just complimented John The Baptist for his work in preparing the way for Him. He also complimented people who simply follow Him completely. He then makes a statement that really settles my heart. He speaks of soul rest. Check this out….

28 Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.30 For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30 NLT)

I love the fact that Jesus has strong shoulders. He gives an open invitation for me to come.

He can carry any of my burdens.

He gives me strength when I’m weary.

He gives me calm in the midst of chaos.

He gives physical rest.

He teaches me from His humble & gentle heart.

He gives soul rest.

He replaces my struggles and burdens with a different calling. Instead of seeking success, He invites me to serve. Success comes after serving. Success comes after sitting at the feet of Jesus. Success comes after rest. I understand that is sounds backward, but the Lord want me to trust and lean on Him. This does not mean I’m lazy and sitting around “resting” all the time. If I never work, rest becomes boring.  I intend to keep trusting the Lord to lead and direct the activities of my life. I trust Him to help bring balance and rhythm to my journey. He gives me soul rest which also connects with physical rest. I’m thankful for His gift of soul rest.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Sent

send buttonThere are times when I hit send on an email or text without really checking it out to make sure the auto-correct feature didn’t goof up something I meant to say. There are other times when I delete the email or text before sending because I’m a bit “fired up” and my words will cause harm instead of being productive. I often wish that I had the same editing privileges on my mouth. I have to watch my words carefully, especially when I’m upset about something.

I came across this passage where Jesus is sending out His disciples to warn the Jewish people that the Kingdom is near. He didn’t “sugar coat” His instructions. Check this out….

16 “Look, I am sending you out as sheep among wolves. So be as shrewd as snakes and harmless as doves. 17 But beware! For you will be handed over to the courts and will be flogged with whips in the synagogues. 18 You will stand trial before governors and kings because you are my followers. But this will be your opportunity to tell the rulers and other unbelievers about me. 19 When you are arrested, don’t worry about how to respond or what to say. God will give you the right words at the right time. 20 For it is not you who will be speaking—it will be the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. (Matthew 10:16-20 NLT)

 

This had to be a bit scary for Jesus’ disciples. The analogy of being sheep among wolves – they had seen firsthand what wolves do to defenseless sheep.  They were probably going to offend some very important people with their message. They were going to face arrest and prison time. This was not the type of “mission trip” that I have been on before for sure. The last part of these instructions really jumped out at me because I’ve experienced this personally…. “Don’t worry about how to respond or what to say. God will give you the right words at the right time.”  There have been times when I say something in response to someone else that after I speak, I realize that I’m not that smart or that spiritually astute. The Lord speaks through me when I slow down and press pause on my big mouth long enough to hear from Him.

He has sent me out to live out my faith.

He has sent me out to speak up about my faith.

He has sent me with His Word to deliver.

He is in charge of my life….my words and actions.

I’m praying that the words I speak and all that I do bring honor to Him. I feel responsible to Him because He sent me to be His hands and feet to everyone I meet.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Impaired & Imperfect

bifocal glasses

The longer I live the more I realize how imperfect I am. I also realize that others aren’t perfect either. We all have struggles at one level or another. I am also keenly aware of how blessed I am to be born into the United States. I don’t always agree with the politicians who lead our government, but I’m thankful to live here. I also realize that as great as our country is, we aren’t perfect for sure. I’ve never met anyone who is perfect. I remember as a young kid, I was strong and didn’t feel like I had imperfections, but I did. The older I get the more imperfections seem to rear their head. For example, I can’t see as well as I once did and my hearing has slipped a bit as well.

Jesus makes a statement that speaks to my impaired and imperfect condition. He is hanging out with obviously non-religious people when making this statement. Check this out…

As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at his tax collector’s booth. “Follow me and be my disciple,” Jesus said to him. So Matthew got up and followed him.

10 Later, Matthew invited Jesus and his disciples to his home as dinner guests, along with many tax collectors and other disreputable sinners. 11 But when the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with such scum?”

12 When Jesus heard this, he said, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do.” 13 Then he added, “Now go and learn the meaning of this Scripture: ‘I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.’ For I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.” (Matthew 9:9-13 NLT)

I think it’s important for me to become aware of my failures and my imperfections. I’m thankful that I’m loved in spite of them. Our health systems across the country have opened these medical clinics for people to avoid the wait at the doctor’s office or Emergency Room. They are convenient and easy to get in and out. When I think of my spiritual health, I’m often in need of major surgery or time in the Intensive Care Unit. I am in need of Jesus speaking into my heart on a daily basis. My time in the Word is much like “out-patient care”. I go to church to get encouragement, motivation and inspiration to keep living out my faith. The church is full of people like me who need spiritual help and encouragement. Some people in our church need major surgery on their heart or head. I remember years ago when I had a spiritual “heart transplant”. As healthy as I appear now, I’m still impaired and imperfect, but the Lord uses people like me to encourage and lead others to Him because I’ve “been there and done that”. I’m so thankful for His patience and persistence in healing my impaired & imperfect heart.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Authority – Influence

Authority Team Indicates Manager Unity And ControlI have become a bit of a “podcast nerd”. I have loved learning for a long time. It is so easy to go to the podcast app and find some amazing podcasts. I have three different podcasts that I follow regularly – Entreleadership, In the Loop with Andy Andrews & The Brian Buffini Show. These podcasts speak into my life to encourage, inspire & motivate me. Yesterday, I was listening to the Entreleadership podcast with Clay Scroggins, lead pastor of North Point Community Church in Alpharetta, GA.  His topic was “How to Build Your Influence”. He spoke about the contrast of a leader who leads with influence and a leader who leads with power. I loved the content and even listened to it twice. I spend a good bit of time traveling, so I listen to these podcasts almost exclusively in my vehicle. Zig Ziglar used to refer to it as “automobile university”.  This morning I read in Matthew 8 of two instances where Jesus’ authority is noted. He healed people without them being present and He calmed a storm with His spoken words. He definitely had authority. He taught with authority. He healed with authority. He ministered on earth for three years with authority. The story that jumped out to me today was when He calmed the storm. Check this out…

23 Then Jesus got into the boat and started across the lake with his disciples.24 Suddenly, a fierce storm struck the lake, with waves breaking into the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. 25 The disciples went and woke him up, shouting, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!”

26 Jesus responded, “Why are you afraid? You have so little faith!” Then he got up and rebuked the wind and waves, and suddenly there was a great calm.

27 The disciples were amazed. “Who is this man?” they asked. “Even the winds and waves obey him!” (Matthew 8:23-27 NLT)

I want to live my life with influence.

If given authority, I want to lead with influence.

If given power, I want to lead with influence.

People with power, often abuse their position. They can make others who work around them or under them miserable. I believe that what Jesus’ authority obviously came from God. He could have done ministry way different than He did. He chose to use His authority wisely. He could have called 10,000 angels to rescue Him from the mockery of a trial and ultimate crucifixion – but He didn’t exercise His Power. He followed the plan of His Father and the crucifixion, while painful and deadly, was necessary.

Jesus talk with authority and lived to influence His disciples and the people who were around Him and came to Him for whatever reason.

I want my life to influence others so that they can notice Jesus, Who is the Ultimate Influence upon me.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Talk Is Cheap – Actions Speak!

megaphoneI know people who can talk a good game. They know something about everything. They are very important people – if you don’t believe me, ask them. I have been around people who are “know it all’s” and I’ve been around people who are brilliant and scholarly. The later don’t usually talk as much. I’m learning to listen more and talk less because I can learn a lot during my time of silence. I do believe that talk without action to back it up is simply hot air and wasted words. Jesus dealt with this with the religious leaders and Pharisees. They talked a good game with their faith, but when you “peeled back” the layers of their lives, they were rotten inside. I want my faith to be real from the depths of my heart to the smallest detail of my life. I want my trust in the Lord to be obvious and noticeable without ever having to say a word.

15 “Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves. 16 You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. Can you pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? 17 A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit. 18 A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. 19 So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire. 20 Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions. (Matthew 7:15-20 NLT) (These are the teachings of Jesus Himself.)

“Actions are louder than words could ever be.”

“What I do speaks so loudly, you can’t hear what I’m saying.”

I came away from this passage realizing the need for humility. I am nothing without the Lord in my life. Just because I know Him and spend time with Him does not make me better than anyone else. I still have sin in my life that must be dealt with. I am simply another human being, created by God who is trying to life a good life because that is who God called me to be. I’ve given my life to Him because I believe He first gave me life. He gave me a future, so I’m trusting Him with mine.

I want my life to drip with humility and gratitude for the blessings that flow from the Lord to me. I am a nobody, who is somebody, because the Lord loved me first. I’m not sure that a day goes by that I don’t get to talk about my faith. I want people to see my faith before I ever speak a word about it. I want my actions to speak loudly about the One I trust in and live for.

Pressing On!

Dwayne