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

From Fear To Faith

Frightened and stressed young business womanI’m not generally a fearful person. I know what it’s like to be afraid. I’ve never had my life threatened by another individual. I have almost been in some bad automobile accidents. I have been in storms where I was somewhat afraid. As the leader of my household, I always try to appear confident and unafraid. I remember one particular evening a couple of years ago when we were camping by the lake and a fierce storm came across the lake. There was high winds, rain, hail and lightening. Our camper is a 5th wheel so it’s strong and heavy. We had a tree limb fall on the top of the camper and another fall through the awning. I wasn’t paralyzed by fear, but I was sure nervous. The storm seemed to come out of nowhere.

Jesus taught His disciples in depth after the crowds had gone. He would further explain His teachings and the parables that He used. One particular evening, He and His disciples were going by boat to the other side of the lake when a strong storm came upon them. The waves were huge and the winds were loud. Check this out…

38 Jesus was sleeping at the back of the boat with his head on a cushion. The disciples woke him up, shouting, “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re going to drown?”

39 When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Silence! Be still!” Suddenly the wind stopped, and there was a great calm. 40 Then he asked them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

41 The disciples were absolutely terrified. “Who is this man?” they asked each other. “Even the wind and waves obey him!” (Mark 4:38-41 NLT)

I love this passage in the life of Jesus and His disciples. I can relate to being afraid of a storm. The storms are a part of our climate and the world we live in – that was created by God. I’ve never rebuked a storm. I have prayed for safety in the storm. I have prayed for the Lord to calm the storm.  Today we have the technology via radar to see the storm coming. Meteorologists can measure the storm. They can predict with amazing accuracy, the timing of a storm and the different characteristics of the storm. Meteorologist don’t make the storm and can’t stop the storm. When I’m talking to the Lord about the storm, I’m talking to the One Who is over the storm.

In my life, I’ve had plenty of storms. I don’t always navigate them with great faith. I’ve learned that the storms of my life are a lot like the storm that scared the disciples. I need to talk to the One Who can calm the storm with His word. I need His help calming my spirit in the midst of the storm. My faith has grown through my fears over the years, because He has used my fear as a teachable moment. My fear can result in faith when I give it to the Lord.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

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

Quiet

 

girl gesturing silence saying shh using her hand - concept vectoI grew up listening to music and like most teenagers, I liked it loud. I wanted to hear the “ping” of the cymbal or the acoustic guitar amid the electric. I subscribed to the notion, “if the music was too loud, you were too old”!  Yes, it has affected my hearing a bit so that now the reason I like music loud is so that I can hear it! LOL!

The Psalmist whose words I read this morning, speaks of quiet. I have learned that I do like to get up early while my house and my world is quiet. I like to hear from the Lord.  I like to hear from Him before the noise of my life begins. It’s not that He can’t speak through the noise of my life (because He does), but I don’t often hear through the noise. I like to start my day with Him speaking into my heart. Check this out…

My heart is not proud, Lord,
    my eyes are not haughty;
I do not concern myself with great matters
    or things too wonderful for me.
But I have calmed and quietened myself,
    I am like a weaned child with its mother;
    like a weaned child I am content.

Israel, put your hope in the Lord
    both now and for evermore. (Psalm 131:1-3 NIV)

I want to hear what the Lord says, because what I want to say is not nearly as important. He is God of Creation, King of Kings & Lord of Lords – I would be wise to trust Him. I would be wise to hear Him. I would be wise to follow His instructions. I would be wise to put my hope in Him. I am ok to sit quietly with Him. He speaks volumes to me heart in the quiet moments where I can listen intently. He handles my life. He will take charge of the smallest detail to the largest, monumental decision. He gives me wisdom and strength in the quiet moments. He prepares me for the noise of my day in the quiet moments of the morning. I’m thankful that I have Him and that I know Him.

Today is a different day for me. I’m attending a funeral later this morning of a dear family friend who was killed suddenly in an auto accident. Her family is hurting deeply.  Later this afternoon, I get to be part of a beautiful, outdoor country wedding with my nephew and his sweet bride to be. In the quietness of this morning, the Lord makes both these events somehow beautiful and meaningful. My life – this life is all about bringing glory to God with my life. He loves it when I point to Him. My quiet time in the morning helps me map out my day and how I can get that accomplished.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Praying For Peace

 

Pretty girl praying.Elderly man prayingI see peace as a “state mutual harmony, and a state of serenity and tranquility”. This is a word that means different things to a lot of different people. I love having peace in my life, buy sometimes peace is not quiet or boring. Sometimes “mutual harmony” is a bit loud and even a struggle. I used to connect peace with quiet and I still do sometimes. Peace is much deeper than silence. Peace is a matter of my spiritual heart condition. When my heart is at peace, I am trusting the Lord with whatever is getting me anxious.

David was evidently heading to the Temple when He wrote this Psalm. David is a warrior and has fought many bloody battles and has seen much bloodshed. In the midst of this assent to worship he is asking the people to join him in prayer. Check this out…

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:
    ‘May those who love you be secure.
May there be peace within your walls
    and security within your citadels.’
For the sake of my family and friends,
    I will say, ‘Peace be within you.’
For the sake of the house of the Lord our God,
    I will seek your prosperity. (Psalm 122:6-9 NIV)

I need to be a prayer warrior for peace. I can pray for peace for my family, my community, my state, my country & the world. Praying for peace and seeking to be peaceful are two different things. I believe that the Lord loves peace. I believe He restores my soul and nourishes my heart during peace. During times of struggle and angst, He does some of His best work building me. I feel like I’ve grown more in times of suffering and struggle for sure than in times of peace. During struggle and hardship, I found myself clinging to Him – holding on as tight as possible. I learned through struggle and suffering that He doesn’t leave me. He is always there. At times during the struggle, it felt as if He had left, but He had not. My feelings are fickle and I’ve learned that when the Lord says He is with me, then I can count on that. It may not “feel” like He is with me; but He sure is!

I love the greeting that Paul ends his second letter to the church as Thessalonica with. Check this out…

Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you. (1 Thessalonians 3:16 NIV)

Pressing On!

Dwayne

 

 

Calamity & Chaos

Tornado aftermath in Henryville, IndianaThere are times in life when it seems like things are coming apart at the seams. Everything seems to be crashing down around me. I’ve been through times of major uncertainty financially. I’ve experienced the struggle of my kid fighting cancer and winning the fight in less than 6 months. In the middle of the calamity and chaos, it seems like it will last forever. Looking back it’s coming up on 5 years ago and the depth of the struggle is getting smaller in my rear view mirror. I don’t think the memories of that experience will go away anytime soon, but they do become a bit more manageable.

Job was definitely in the middle of calamity and chaos. His life was way different than just a few months before. He has lost his family, his possessions and his health. He is miserable and suffering from open sores all over his body. His friends are accusing him of sin and he knows that he hasn’t gone that route. He doesn’t understand how God could let this happen to him. His “friend” Bildad the Shuhite (I’ve been told that Bildad is the shortest man in the Bible! Wink-Wink!) jumps in with his own commentary. Check this out…

5 ‘The lamp of a wicked man is snuffed out;

    the flame of his fire stops burning.

6 The light in his tent becomes dark;

    the lamp beside him goes out.

7 The vigour of his step is weakened;

    his own schemes throw him down.

12 Calamity is hungry for him;

    disaster is ready for him when he falls.

13 It eats away parts of his skin;

    death’s firstborn devours his limbs.

14 He is torn from the security of his tent

    and marched off to the king of terrors.

21 Surely such is the dwelling of an evil man;

    such is the place of one who does not know God.’ (Job 18:5-7; 12-14; 21 NIV)

I think back over the back-story of my life and I experienced some chaos and calamity, but nowhere near the scale that Job is experiencing. He is really battling to keep his sanity in the midst of a crazy, painful journey. His friends do lecture a bit and accuse him, but he keeps on “plowing through the pain”. They call him “evil man” and yet he’s done nothing to deserve this.

I think there have been tragedies in our world that I can’t explain for sure – the death of a child, or the death of a young mom or dad. I don’t always understand why bad things happen to good people – but they do. I don’t always understand why God doesn’t jump in and save the day. I have learned to trust His heart even when I can’t see His hand at work.

Calamity and Chaos leave the room when The Lord enters. He comes in bringing hope. He brings peace in the middle of the storm. He brings calm in the middle of crisis. Job is leaning on the Lord and that’s exactly what I must do too.

Pressing On!

Dwayne