I Give Up My Rights

Terms And Conditions-stampThere are many rights afforded me as an American citizen. The United States Bill of Rights guarantees all its citizens certain rights under that constitution. I am still amazed at this document that became the foundation and the very spirit of our democracy. We have lots of freedom under that law, but with that freedom comes great responsibility. There are still boundaries even in the “land of the free and home of the brave”. Our freedom also came with great sacrifice. I’m living in this free country today, because of many brave men and women who’ve gone before me and fought back against threats to our freedoms. I am given “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” under our constitution. This well-known phrase gives three examples of my unalienable rights given to me by God, which the Declaration of Independence declares that governments are there to protect.

Paul talks about his rights as an Apostle. He also gives up his rights for the sake of the gospel. He really sets a high bar when it comes to spreading the gospel. Check this out….

19 Even though I am a free man with no master, I have become a slave to all people to bring many to Christ. 20 When I was with the Jews, I lived like a Jew to bring the Jews to Christ. When I was with those who follow the Jewish law, I too lived under that law. Even though I am not subject to the law, I did this so I could bring to Christ those who are under the law. 21 When I am with the Gentiles who do not follow the Jewish law, I too live apart from that law so I can bring them to Christ. But I do not ignore the law of God; I obey the law of Christ.

22 When I am with those who are weak, I share their weakness, for I want to bring the weak to Christ. Yes, I try to find common ground with everyone, doing everything I can to save some. 23 I do everything to spread the Good News and share in its blessings. (1 Corinthians 9:19-23 NLT)

I believe it’s important in sharing the gospel to explain its simplicity. It is certain simple to trust in Jesus, but it’s certainly not easy to live it out. I heard a great quote once by Les Brown that said: “If you do what is easy, your life will be hard, but if you do what is hard, your life will be easy”.  Becoming a disciple of Jesus is definitely harder to live out day to day than it sounds. He calls me to surrender who I am to who He is calling me to be. I can fight that call, but He won’t stop calling me. I have found that surrendering to that call puts me in a place of great blessing – in the center of His Will for my life. Just because I’m a follower of Jesus doesn’t make me “better” than anyone else. I am still broken and flawed. I still sin and make colossal mistakes in my journey of following Him. I’ve given up my rights to follow Him. I’ve surrendered all that I have and all that I’ve done to follow Him. Everything I have is His. Everything I am is His. I have no rights to speak of except what He’s given me. I surrender all that I am and ever hope to be just to know Him and make Him known here on the earth.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Know It All

i want to know moreI am not a fan of “know it all” people. I do enjoy being around smart people. I heard a quote recently that said: “If you’re the smartest person in the room, then you’re in the wrong room”! If I know it all, how can I keep growing? I personally believe people who “know it all” are prideful and arrogant. We should never be too old to learn. We should never become so well educated that we can’t learn or refuse to learn anything new. The Apostle Paul was dealing with the freedoms of some people at church and the strong convictions of others. It is easy for me to tell others what to believe based on my convictions. The Pharisees and the Sadducees did this with great regularity. They enjoyed making other people feel inferior to their beliefs and teachings of scripture. When Jesus encountered them, He often made them look foolish in their prideful behavior. Check this out…

But while knowledge makes us feel important, it is love that strengthens the church. Anyone who claims to know all the answers doesn’t really know very much. But the person who loves God is the one whom God recognizes.

But for us,

There is one God, the Father,
    by whom all things were created,
    and for whom we live.
And there is one Lord, Jesus Christ,
    through whom all things were created,
    and through whom we live. (1 Corinthians 8:1b-3,6 NLT)

I do have some convictions based on my knowledge and understanding of God’s Word and my journey with Him over the years. I am open to the teaching of His Word by others. I also don’t want to become prideful and arrogant based on what I know or believe about the Lord. Jesus modeled humility even though He was The One & Only Son of God. I want to know more about the Lord. I want to know more about God’s heart. I want my understanding and knowledge of Him to continue to expand and grow every day of my life. I do have convictions – belief that is set in concrete, but I’m open to the Lord’s teaching me new insight into His heart. I don’t want my freedoms to destroy other people’s convictions. I simply want to know more and more about the Lord in Whom I put my trust for this life and eternal life!

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Declaration of Dependence

Abstract Silhouette PrayingI am grateful to have been born in the United States of America. I have been a patriotic person since I was a young kid. My grandfather (Pappy) served in World War II and what little I knew about all of that, I was thankful for the freedom we enjoy in this country. I’ve learned over the years the price that many before me had to give for this freedom. I’m grateful today for the men and women who are standing watch so that we can continue to enjoy the freedoms we enjoy here in the USA!

On July 4th of every year, we celebrate “Independence Day” here in the USA. We celebrate our independence from being under any other government other than the one elected by our citizens. Our freedoms still come with boundaries, but nothing like other countries under totalitarian rule or a dictatorship.  The Apostle Paul writes about marriage to the church at Corinth. He also writes about being a slave and being free. His counsel is interesting. Check this out…

20 Yes, each of you should remain as you were when God called you. 21 Are you a slave? Don’t let that worry you—but if you get a chance to be free, take it. 22 And remember, if you were a slave when the Lord called you, you are now free in the Lord. And if you were free when the Lord called you, you are now a slave of Christ.23 God paid a high price for you, so don’t be enslaved by the world. 24 Each of you, dear brothers and sisters, should remain as you were when God first called you. (1 Corinthians 7:20-24 NLT)

I need to consistently declare my “Declaration of Dependence” upon the Lord. I really try to lean on Him before making any significant decisions. I really want His counsel in every area of my life. I want to depend upon Him as I lead my family. I want to depend upon Him as I serve and lead in His church. I want to depend upon Him as I lead and serve at Metro West Realty. I want every area of my life subject to dependence upon Him – no exceptions. (Please note: this is easier said than done.) The cool part is that I have His assistance as I keep working at this dependent lifestyle. This was the Lord’s plan all along. I’m dependent upon Him so that He can do amazing things in me and through me. He wants to be glorified and honored with my life. My self-serving and self-centered behavior clearly blocks that goal. I’m going to repent and get back to living dependent upon Him.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

My Body – a temporary temple

As I get older, I realize that my body can’t do what it used to do. I remember my teenage years of being strong doing lots of manual labor. I don’t do as much manual labor as I once did and I usually remember it for about three days as I recover. A few days ago, I decided to put up some real estate signs because the physical labor was therapeutic for me. I usually hire someone to do this for me, but I decided to make time for me and to physically do this myself. These are not simply yard signs to be planted in the front yard, these were signs that require digging holes with hole diggers, etc.… It took longer than I expected, but I did feel accomplished when I arrived home that evening. My body is not nearly as strong as it once was, but I still work doing physical labor. I was reminded this morning that God’s Spirit dwells in my body, so I should pay more attention to it. Check this out…

18 Run from sexual sin! No other sin so clearly affects the body as this one does. For sexual immorality is a sin against your own body. 19 Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, 20 for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body. (1 Corinthians 6:18-20 NLT)

This passage reminded me of just how powerful a sexual society we are in. I was also reminded of how destructive sexual sin can be on our lives as well as our soul. The Creator/Designer of our bodies gives specific instructions regarding use of our body. It seems that we often ignore His instructions as archaic and outdated. I feel a bit of relief when I remember the grace that comes in that part of this passage that says: “You do not belong to yourself, for God bought with a high price”.  I really want to pay attention and honor God with my physical body – the things I eat, drink, and activities. It is really obvious with the eating part. I need His help being disciplined in all areas of my life. I do want to honor God with my mouth, my devoted heart and the behaviors of my physical body. He dwells inside me – my body is a temporary dwelling place of His Spirit – that is a big responsibility that He will actually help me with. As long as I live I want to take care of this body where He dwells daily.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Associations

members only blue stampThere are lots of associations in the business worlds. There also associations in the academic world as well as church world. Associations are made up of individuals with a like purpose from different places or companies with structure to organize, improve and consult with others in the same field of work. A couple of examples are American Medical Association or Auto Care Association – there are thousands of associations in our country. I belong to the Georgia Association of REALTORS as well as the National Association of REALTORS and there are other associations inside those associations. The largest “association” that I belong too is the church.

The church is a group of people who believe in God and they are organized to study and grow in their knowledge of God which builds greater faith. Some churches teach and believe things that are not in the Word of God. There are churches who have their Bible or something similar. I have accepted the Bible as the Word of God and the words of God. Just being part of the church and associating with the church doesn’t define my faith. My faith is God is deeply personal but it is shown and displayed by my commitment to other believers.

The Apostle Paul “gets in the weeds” a bit with the church at Corinth about associating. I remember teaching my kids about choosing their friends wisely in school and that instruction still applies today. It applies to me as an adult. I still have to choose who I associate with wisely. I can become known by the people I hang out with. Paul makes it clear that the association of the church has a very specific purpose and it’s not just another club or association that you belong to. Check this out….

When I wrote to you before, I told you not to associate with people who indulge in sexual sin. 10 But I wasn’t talking about unbelievers who indulge in sexual sin, or are greedy, or cheat people, or worship idols. You would have to leave this world to avoid people like that. 11 I meant that you are not to associate with anyone who claims to be a believer yet indulges in sexual sin, or is greedy, or worships idols, or is abusive, or is a drunkard, or cheats people. Don’t even eat with such people. (1 Corinthians 5:9-11 NLT)

In the associations or organizations that I belong to, there are rules or codes of conduct that are vital to the function of the organization. Paul is spelling out that that there are also code of conduct inside the church.

I believe that as we walk out our faith, our church can help us grow and mature quicker than simply trying to do our faith on our own. Jesus is the head of the church and He calls it His body of sorts. We all have are different, but members of the same body. I want to be a contributor to the growth of Christ’s church here on earth. I believe the church is in a unique position to help each other through suffering and struggles that come with being a human being living on earth. We celebrate the Creator and seek to walk in His Way and live out the purpose for which we were created in the first place.  I’m thankful for the church and specifically the church that I’m part of.

Pressing On!

Dwayne  

Accountability Conversation

ConversationI would rather hold someone else accountable than to be held accountable. Accountability works best as a “two-way street”. Accountability requires truth, courage and patience among other attributes. I think for accountability to work in my Christian journey, there must be love, kindness and gentleness.

The Apostle Paul writes two letters to the church at Corinth. He writes in a very personable way. I can feel his love for them, even when he’s “pouring it on”. He loves them too much to let them live however they please. He keeps reminding them of meeting Jesus and the change that the Lord brought about in their lives. Check this out…

18 Some of you have become arrogant, thinking I will not visit you again. 19 But I will come—and soon—if the Lord lets me, and then I’ll find out whether these arrogant people just give pretentious speeches or whether they really have God’s power. 20 For the Kingdom of God is not just a lot of talk; it is living by God’s power. 21 Which do you choose? Should I come with a rod to punish you, or should I come with love and a gentle spirit? (1 Corinthians 4:18-21 NLT)

I was speaking with a man a day or so ago, whom I believe to be a Christ follower. I’m not sure how our conversation got to this place, but I told him that I wanted anyone who saw something in me that wasn’t Christ-like, to please “call me out”. I can be blind to my own behavior and issues. Accountability is not optional for Christians. We sometimes act all “high and mighty”, when we should be “low and weak”. I don’t EVER want to come across to others as prideful and arrogant. If you are reading this and you know me and you’ve seen this in me – PLEASE connect with me and call me out.  I believe pride is at the heart of ALL sin. I believe pride is very self-destructive. It doesn’t matter how large my leadership platform, if I’m full of pride instead of gratitude and humility – I will fail as a leader.

I want to live like the Lord called me to live.

I want to love like the Lord loves.

I want to lead others, by following the Lord.

I want to be humble and kind just like the Lord.

I want to live out my faith daily with the Power of God overflowing from my heart.

Pressing On!

Dwayne