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

Presence of Holy God

Abstract Silhouette PrayingI have felt the Presence of God so close I could nearly touch Him with my hand. I have also felt so distant from Him that I almost lost my way. I believe that as I read the Word of God, the Presence of God is cultivated in my heart. I can find connection to Him and my courage is built up.

The people of Israel had with them the Ark of the Covenant. The represented a lot of things to them, but certainly it represented the Presence of God among them. When the Philistines captured it, they were speechless. The high priests sons where killed in the capture and the high priest died when he heard about it. The Lord had a plan and He was making a way. Check this out…

1 After the Philistines had captured the ark of God, they took it from Ebenezer to Ashdod. 2 Then they carried the ark into Dagon’s temple and set it beside Dagon. 3 When the people of Ashdod rose early the next day, there was Dagon, fallen on his face on the ground before the ark of the Lord! They took Dagon and put him back in his place. 4 But the following morning when they rose, there was Dagon, fallen on his face on the ground before the ark of the Lord! His head and hands had been broken off and were lying on the threshold; only his body remained. (1 Samuel 5:1-4 NIV)

The Lord didn’t like the Ark of the Covenant being used as a god. He was making it clear to the Philistines that He is not like any other god. He is the One True God. They sent the Ark to two more cities and devastation struck. The Lord inflicted more pain upon the Philistines than the battles with Israel for sure.

One thing is clear in this passage of scripture. The Lord “Expects Respect” and He will get it – voluntarily or involuntarily.

His Presence commands respect.

His Presence changes every moment that He’s in.

His Presence changes my perspective on everything.

I want to totally respect the Presence of God in my life. He gives insight. He gives Peace that others can’t understand. He gives calm. He gives clarity. He gives wisdom. He gives direction. He gives Hope. He gives grace. I can’t imagine life without Him.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Cool Under Pressure

Four Principles of Management Leadership - GearsThere are very few people who one day they are help captive in a dungeon and then things changed and they were second in command of the whole country. That is what happened to Joseph. He was imprisoned because of false accusations, but he kept his faith in God. On this particular he was sent for because Pharaoh had experienced a bad dream and the wise men and officials serving the king could not explain the dream. Check this out…

14 So Pharaoh sent for Joseph, and he was quickly brought from the dungeon. When he had shaved and changed his clothes, he came before Pharaoh.

15 Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘I had a dream, and no one can interpret it. But I have heard it said of you that when you hear a dream you can interpret it.’

16 ‘I cannot do it,’ Joseph replied to Pharaoh, ‘but God will give Pharaoh the answer he desires.’ (Genesis 41:14-16 NIV)

So Joseph interprets Pharaoh’s dreams and in those dreams the Lord is revealing 7 really good years of food and 7 really lean years without food. Joseph also reveals a plan to be prepared. He suggested that Pharaoh build storehouses and store food the seven good years and appoint officials to organized the storage facilities and be prepared when the seven bad years come. Check this out…

37 The plan seemed good to Pharaoh and to all his officials. 38 So Pharaoh asked them, ‘Can we find anyone like this man, one in whom is the spirit of God?’

39 Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘Since God has made all this known to you, there is no one so discerning and wise as you. 40 You shall be in charge of my palace, and all my people are to submit to your orders. Only with respect to the throne will I be greater than you.’ (Genesis 41:37-40 NIV)

Joseph had a deep relationship with the Lord and it showed in his words, his posture, and all of his behavior. I believe his wise and discerning spirit is what got him noticed. He was calm, cool and collected in front of the king because God’s Spirit was inside him. He completely trusted God with his destiny and not what he could do on his own gifts, talent or ability. History reveals that Pharaoh made a good decision that day to trust Joseph with the leadership of this huge project. Joseph proved his wise and discerning heart many times over.

Pressing On!

Dwayne