Pretend Worship

Worship to GodI’ve used the phrase: “Fake it till you make it”. I confess that I’ve pretended to worship before, because I was supposed to worship. I’ve pretended because others were watching. It’s been several years, but I have since learned the value of being genuine before the Lord. I have learned that He knows my heart and “pretend worship” doesn’t really help things. I have also learned that the Lord really hates hypocrisy. Pretend worship is really hypocrisy. I’m at a place in my journey that the more I learn about the Lord the more I’m drawn to genuine worship, wonder and awe of Who He is and I’m humbled that He would love someone like me.

One of the more disturbing passages in scripture is when Jesus is taken before the Jewish leaders in the wee hours of the morning for a “pretend trial”. He is then taken to Pilate, who was governor, but also a “push over”. Pilate releases a murderer and turns Jesus over to the Roman soldiers for execution via crucifixion. This scene disturbed me. Check this out…

16 The soldiers took Jesus into the courtyard of the governor’s headquarters (called the Praetorium) and called out the entire regiment. 17 They dressed him in a purple robe, and they wove thorn branches into a crown and put it on his head.18 Then they saluted him and taunted, “Hail! King of the Jews!” 19 And they struck him on the head with a reed stick, spit on him, and dropped to their knees in mock worship. 20 When they were finally tired of mocking him, they took off the purple robe and put his own clothes on him again. Then they led him away to be crucified. (Mark 5:15-20 NLT)

This mock worship really nailed my heart. These soldiers didn’t know that the One and Only Son of God was the object of their mockery. They went the extra distance to put on a good show. They were clearly sarcastic and playful, but this scene really disturbed me. I felt convicted of my pretend worship. I remember times of being angry and hurt at God. I felt like He could have protected my loved ones from sickness and suffering. I now realize that I was looking at my circumstances in light of honoring me instead of trying to honor God regardless of my circumstances. My genuine worship should happen because of Who He is NOT BECAUSE of what He does for me. Pretend worship is really self-worship. Pretend worship reveals a diseased & corrupt heart.

I want to come before the Lord in Awe & Wonder for all that He is and all that He is doing in me and in others. I can’t make my worship about music or anything to do with me. It is ALL ABOUT HIM! I believe genuine, true worship is about surrendering my heart before Him to be used by Him.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

He Came! (Merry Christmas!)

 

Christmas NatavityThe barn was probably like other barns – wood floor. There was the pungent smell of urine, dung, sheep and cattle. The ground is probably hard and the hay scarce. Cobwebs cling to the ceiling and a mouse scurries across the dirt floor. There are some shepherds a bit perplexed at what they are seeing. Joseph is off to one side, his eyes are heavy. It’s been a tough few days, but Mary & the baby are safe. He has lots of questions, but not the energy to put of sleep that is over taking him.

Wide awake is Mary. My, how young she looks! Her head rests on the soft leather of Joseph’s saddle. The pain has been eclipsed by wonder. She looks into the face of the baby. Her son. Her Lord. His Majesty. At this point in human history, the human being who best understands who God is and what He is doing is a teenage girl in a smelly stable. She can’t take her eyes off him. Somehow Mary knows she is holding God.

Majesty in the midst of the mundane. Holiness in the filth of sheep manure and sweat. Divinity entering the world on the floor of a stable, through the womb of a teenager and in the presence of a carpenter. Angels watch as Mary changed God’s diaper! (God Came Near by Max Lucado – my favorite read at Christmas!)

1At that time the Roman emperor, Augustus, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire. (This was the first census taken when Quirinius was governor of Syria.) All returned to their own ancestral towns to register for this census. And because Joseph was a descendant of King David, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, David’s ancient home. He traveled there from the village of Nazareth in Galilee. He took with him Mary, to whom he was engaged, who was now expecting a child.

And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. She gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them. (Luke 2:1-7 NLT)

If I’m not careful, I will miss Him again.

I’m so thankful He came in such an unusual way.

I’m so thankful He did what He came to do – overcome sin & death.

I’m so thankful He opened access to God Himself for regular people like me.

I’m so grateful that God so loved the world that He gave His One and only Son…

Merry Christmas from my heart and my family to your heart and your family!

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Awestruck

 

Happy surprised manThis to me is a speechless, incredible and overwhelming moment of admiration or inspiration. I do remember occasionally as a kid being amazed at certain people and their talents or gifts. As I got older, I’m harder to impress. Occasionally, I am blown away by something or someone. The more I study the life of Jesus, I think I would have been awestruck quite often to see His healing power and to hear His teaching first-hand.

Luke’s gospel is written very precise as Luke is a physician. I love how he tells the different events that happened in Jesus’ life and ministry. On one occasion, the crowd was so big by the Sea of Galilee, that Jesus got in a boat and pushed out a bit to teach. It was Simon Peter’s boat, so I’m guessing that Peter was in the boat with him. Check this out…

When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Now go out where it is deeper, and let down your nets to catch some fish.”

“Master,” Simon replied, “we worked hard all last night and didn’t catch a thing. But if you say so, I’ll let the nets down again.” And this time their nets were so full of fish they began to tear! A shout for help brought their partners in the other boat, and soon both boats were filled with fish and on the verge of sinking.

When Simon Peter realized what had happened, he fell to his knees before Jesus and said, “Oh, Lord, please leave me—I’m such a sinful man.” For he was awestruck by the number of fish they had caught, as were the others with him.10 His partners, James and John, the sons of Zebedee, were also amazed.

Jesus replied to Simon, “Don’t be afraid! From now on you’ll be fishing for people!” 11 And as soon as they landed, they left everything and followed Jesus. (Luke 5:4-11 NLT)

This was the beginning of a long and storied journey of Peter following Jesus. I often give Peter a hard time about being so impulsive and quick when studying the disciples, but it’s hard to argue with his passion for following Jesus.

Peter was awestruck by what Jesus did for him. His partners, James, John and brother Andrew were amazed as well. They left everything and followed Jesus.

I still have a good memory of times when I’ve been amazed and awestruck by something the Lord did in my life. I’ve seen His work first-hand. I’ve never visually laid eyes on Him, but His Presence is a powerful moment and impossible to go unnoticed. I want to walk with the Lord daily and notice His Presence and His Power in my every day, regular life. I am empowered by His Presence. I feel confident and courageous with His Spirit in me. I don’t want to miss what He’s doing in my world.  I want His help being a husband, Dad, friend & REALTOR. He can help me encourage and inspire others. He is awe-inspiring to me and I want others to notice that He is with me.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Dominion

For God so loved the world... God holding world with crossWhen I think of this word, I think of dominion – I think of control, ruling power, and domination. I’m thankful that we don’t live under a government of dominion. I have to confess that it feels a bit like that sometimes, but our government is “we the people”. We have lots of choices and freedoms that we wouldn’t have if were under the dominion of a dictator.

Job’s buddy Bildad the Shuhite (the short guy) weighs in with a short dialogue. He jumps straight to the point challenging Job’s assertion that he has done nothing wrong. Check this out…

2 ‘Dominion and awe belong to God;

    he establishes order in the heights of heaven.

3 Can his forces be numbered?

    On whom does his light not rise?

4 How then can a mortal be righteous before God?

    How can one born of woman be pure? (Job 25:24 NIV)

I can’t argue with Bildad’s assertion about the Power, Presence and work of God. He makes a strong statement. He then follows up with some questions that carry with them some inferences about the answers to his questions. It is clever rhetoric to push back on Job a bit.

God is the One who determines whether someone is good before Him.

I look at the behavior of someone to determine if they are good person or not. If they lie or deceive, I’m not going to put a lot of trust in them. The Lord sees the heart of the person that I saw lie or deceive. If I could see inside the person’s heart, it would be very revealing. I think that there are people who look good on the outside, but their heart if full of deceit. My behavior on the outside doesn’t determine the condition of my heart. I believe that behavior reveals the heart.

To answer Bildad’s questions:

God’s forces can only be numbered by Him.

No one is beyond the light of God or His reach.

God can make anyone righteous before Him.

God is the Creator – He doesn’t create junk.

I feel confident that Job will remind Bildad that the Lord is large and in charge of his life. Job has had a close personal relationship with the Lord until this test. I believe that Job is suffering so profoundly that he is wondering how he can survive this. He’s holding on to the Lord as tight as he can. The Lord has dominion over everything and everyone. The more I know about the Lord, the more in awe of Him I become.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Overwhelmed

 

God's mercy at the CrossThere are times when what I see, hear or experience is simply overwhelming. I don’t always have words to describe what I saw or heard or even experienced. It’s at those times I should probably not say anything. I should try to just take it in. Sometimes there are simply no words to describe or put into proper perspective.

The Queen of Sheba came to visit Solomon because she had heard of his wisdom and wealth. She brought her entourage to Jerusalem to see for herself. She had some questions that she wanted to ask and he answered them all. She was blown away. Check this out…

6 She said to the king, “The report I heard in my own country about your achievements and your wisdom is true. 7 But I did not believe these things until I came and saw with my own eyes. Indeed, not even half was told me; in wisdom and wealth you have far exceeded the report I heard. 8 How happy your people must be! How happy your officials, who continually stand before you and hear your wisdom! 9 Praise be to the Lord your God, who has delighted in you and placed you on the throne of Israel. Because of the Lord’s eternal love for Israel, he has made you king to maintain justice and righteousness.” (1 Kings 10:6-9 NIV)

The Queen of Sheba really blessed Solomon – she really seemed genuinely impressed and blessed to have made the trip to visit with him. She noted how blessed the people were who worked with him in the castle. She also realized that the Lord was responsible for his wisdom and wealth.

I need to take notice every day of all God is doing. As I reflect on my journey, I realize that He is with me and has been with me. I believe He has protected me from myself at times. I also believe His Presence has helped me navigate through some very hard times.

When I reflect on the Presence of God in me, I am overwhelmed at the thought that He would live inside my heart and bless me beyond words. Wealth and wisdom are much more that money and fame. Wealth and wisdom bring calm through chaos. I can’t help but sing when I think of how the Lord has blessed me many times over. I also remember that wealth and wisdom are not the end game. The end game is to know the Lord and to walk with Him daily. No matter how wise or wealthy I become, it’s nothing without Him front and center. He holds the keys to eternal life and I can’t take my wealth with me and I’m not sure my wisdom will be significant in eternity. I have a feeling that I won’t need words.

I really like the song by Big Daddy Weave that expresses much of what I’ve tried to say…     Overwhelmed

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Respect With Reverence

 

God's mercy at the CrossI believe that these two terms should probably go hand in hand with one another when approaching the Lord. If I only approach Him with respect, I’m leaving out a valuable part of Who He is. If I approach Him with reverence without respect I’m making much more of me than I ought.

Reverence is defined at dictionary.com as “a feeling or attitude of deep respect tinged with awe”. Respect is defined as “to hold in high esteem or honor”. King David loved the Lord and he had a great relationship with God. An event happened when David and some of his men where moving the Ark of The Covenant to Jerusalem. There is this pretty big procession of singing, dancing and celebration as the Ark is on the move. Check this out…

6 When they came to the threshing-floor of Nakon, Uzzah reached out and took hold of the ark of God, because the oxen stumbled. 7 The Lord’s anger burned against Uzzah because of his irreverent act; therefore God struck him down, and he died there beside the ark of God.

8 Then David was angry because the Lord’s wrath had broken out against Uzzah, and to this day that place is called Perez Uzzah.

9 David was afraid of the Lord that day and said, ‘How can the ark of the Lord ever come to me?’ 10 He was not willing to take the ark of the Lord to be with him in the City of David. Instead, he took it to the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite. 11 The ark of the Lord remained in the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite for three months, and the Lord blessed him and his entire household. (2 Samuel 6:6-11 NIV)

There is nothing that stops a celebration in it’s tracks like death. This event went from celebration to stunned disbelief in a flash. I think David’s response was very human and I can so see myself responding the same way. I remember clearly being pretty ticked at God when my son was diagnosed with cancer. It takes time to process sometime just Who God is and what His calling upon my life is really about. I sometimes think my life should be rosy and good all the time. I want to be safe. I want to be healthy. I want to be wealthy. I want to be happy. I want – I want – I want. Most of the time I spend time telling the Lord what I want from Him instead of asking Him what He wants from me. If I’m not careful I think that the Lord is all about me when He really wants me to be all about Him.

My life should be all about respect with reverence before God. I need to change the goals of my life and make them about Him instead of all about me. When I figure this out, my life takes on deep reverence and deep respect for Creator God. If I think that it’s all about what I want – when I want it, then this is a colossal case of missing the point of my existence here on earth. As I read the rest of the passage, I think David had time to process what happened and he realized that maybe they had been a bit flippant with the Ark. He ended up going back after it after three months.

As I approach today, I want to make sure the activities of my day are deeply respectful and reverent before the Lord.

Pressing On!

Dwayne