Patience & Suffering

Woman suffering from stress grimacing in painI am not known for patience, but I’m learning more every day. I am not filled with road rage, but I do get frustrated when others can’t seem to figure out how to drive their truck or car like the rest of us! (LOL) Patience is a very important character trait. It’s included as a fruit of The Spirit. (Galatians 5:22) I like being around patient people, it’s not nearly as easy to be patient as it appears. Our culture leans hard toward instant gratification instead of delayed gratification. We like things now and we don’t like to wait. The older I get the more aware of this epidemic of impatience. I was reminded of patience this morning, especially when things are not going as planned and suffering comes on the scene. Check this out…

Therefore, brothers and sisters, be patient until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth and is patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. You also must be patient. Strengthen your hearts, because the Lord’s coming is near.

10 Brothers and sisters, take the prophets who spoke in the Lord’s name as an example of suffering and patience. 11 See, we count as blessed those who have endured. You have heard of Job’s endurance and have seen the outcome that the Lord brought about—the Lord is compassionate and merciful. (James 5:7-8,10-11 CSB)

People who have endured suffering are more thankful than those who haven’t. Suffering is hard and painful. It’s a struggle to suffer and I need others with me in the struggle. Those who have suffered are humble in spirit.  I would not wish suffering upon anyone, but I pray that those during suffering learn that leaning into the Lord is the best path through it. I also know that when I’ve endured suffering, I’m stronger and closer to the Lord than ever before. If I don’t trust the Lord in my suffering, I’ll become bitter instead of better. Suffering, Patience & Endurance build rock solid character on multiple levels. I’ve learned more about myself during these struggles. The Lord has built some character qualities in me during suffering and hard time that I’m not sure could have been built any other way.

I don’t pray for patience, but I really try to practice it. I pray for strength for today. I pray for the Lord to give me strength to endure hardship and hard times. I approach Him with a thankful heart for all that He has brought me through because remember my history of struggle and suffering gives a healthy perspective on today’s struggle. Someone quipped that “life is hard by the yard and a cinch by the inch”. I want to live my life out walking with the Lord through everything – the good, easy or the hard & hectic. His Presence in my heart gives me great strength and confidence to face whatever life throws at me. Life is not always easy, but He is certainly ALWAYS with me.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Inspiration

Grace AND Truth

I am inspired by the stories of people who have gone before me. I am reading a book called “The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill: Defender of the Realm, 1940-1965” It is about the long and storied history of Churchill’s leadership during the World War II era. The hardship that he and the people of England faced was very hard and very real, but they emerged in great strength through the hardships. Churchill was an inspirational leader. He was a motivator. He was a thinker. He had his weird moments. He inspired others by his speeches, writings, but most of all his leadership. Great leaders inspire others to follow their lead.

The Apostle Paul in writing to Timothy is encouraging his young protégé by writing to remind Timothy of his journey thus far. It is often helpful to reflect on where we’ve been to truly appreciate where we are today. Paul closes out one of the chapters by reminding Timothy that tough times are ahead. He reminds him that there will be opposition and persecution. He gives some strong counsel to Timothy in the face of trouble. These words inspired me many years ago and I was reminded of the significance of The Word as I read these words. Check this out…

14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and firmly believed. You know those who taught you, 15 and you know that from infancy you have known the sacred Scriptures, which are able to give you wisdom for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, 17 so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:14-17 CSB)

I think I was around 14 years of age when I gave my first message to the little church I grew up attending in Casey Creek, KY. I remember being encouraged by this passage of scripture that talks about its value to my life. I can’t say that I had a daily discipline of reading scripture every day, but I am thankful that the Lord spoke into my heart and used His Word to build me and equip me for whatever was ahead for me. My journey has most definitely had struggles and hardship, but God’s Word kept speaking into my life. The Word teaches, rebukes, corrects and trains me. I am inspired to keep reading The Word as I live out my life, because I feel Him speak directly into my heart. Reading His Word daily doesn’t make me anyone special, but I’m reminded and inspired to keep surrendering my heart to Him and the peace that only He can give settles into my soul.

I want to live my life inspired by God’s Word. I want to lead my family inspired by God’s Word. I want my career to continually be inspired by God’s Word – His character, His Wisdom for my life. The journey of my life has been profoundly influenced and directed by my daily discovery of God’s heart found in scripture

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Truth or Lie

 

Lies Have Speed Truth Has Endurance SpeedometerI have always had a tough time with people who blatantly lie. Truth is a fundamental fabric to character. Lies and deceit are direct assaults upon this fundamental fabric. People who lie are impossible to trust because they don’t have a standard that they cling to or depend upon. They will move people and situations to improve their life at the expense of whoever or whatever is in their way. It is my goal to build relationships upon truth. I don’t want to mislead or mistreat anyone. I also can’t be “best friends” with everyone I meet, but I can treat them with respect and honor as a child of God – human being. This is not to say that there aren’t consequences for lying. There are people in prison mainly because they lied. There are people who have been fired from very good and gainful employment because they lied. I’m thankful that the Lord continues to build into me. I have lied in the past and I’ve been forgiven. Lies cause me stress and inner struggle. I have confessed when I’ve lied and I’ve asked for forgiveness. I don’t lie frequently. The older I get the more futile I realize lying or deceit can be. Truth makes it way out of lies and deceit. Check this out…

I call on the Lord in my distress,
    and he answers me.
Save me, Lord,
    from lying lips
    and from deceitful tongues. (Psalm 120:1-2 NIV)

I am a man of truth. I have seen the counterfeit nature of a lie and I despise lying. Sometimes it’s hard to speak truth, but it’s better to be honest every single time than to lie. I do believe that the truth needs to be accompanied by grace and love. If the truth is all by itself, it can be excruciatingly painful. It doesn’t have to always be harsh or hateful. Truth needs to be soaked and dripping in love where applicable. Sometimes, truth is abstract and simple. Sometimes, truth involves relationships that are life-long and really challenging.  I would rather have someone tell me the truth 100% of the time than to lie at any level. I’m a grown up and I can handle the truth as hard as it may seem. If I’m given a lie, I will work with it like it’s true until proven otherwise. I so wish that there was a “truth serum” that we could all drink with our breakfast that would cause us to speak truth. I thought about the movie starring Jim Carrey called “Liar Liar” that was released in 1997.

I want to continue to walk in truth. I want to continually speak the truth. I want the words of my mouth to always be honest, honorable and truthful. I don’t want to mislead, mistreat or misuse the truth in any way.  I want my word to mean something every day. I want the Lord’s help in guarding my tongue and my choices today.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Resolve

I have made many decisions in my life. I have made some of those decisions without complete confidence that my decision was the best. There are other decisions that I’ve made that are not up for negotiation – they are final. I believe convictions are my “beliefs set in concrete”. My convictions come from past experiences as well as from valuable people who have poured truth into my life over the years. I can’t begin to name them all. My experience with God over the past several years have put several parts of my faith journey in concrete terms for sure. I have been through tough times and He has walked with me through it. He never leaves and never gives up on me – I have no intentions whatsoever of giving up on Him.

Job makes some concrete statements to his friends. They are basically accusing him of sin in his life because of his trials and suffering. He has lost just about everything that matters to him, but he still won’t curse God or admit to being sinful. He speaks with deep resolve to his friends to make his position clear. Check this out….

2 ‘As surely as God lives, who has denied me justice,

    the Almighty, who has made my life bitter,

3 as long as I have life within me,

    the breath of God in my nostrils,

4 my lips will not say anything wicked,

    and my tongue will not utter lies.

5 I will never admit you are in the right;

    till I die, I will not deny my integrity.

6 I will maintain my innocence and never let go of it;

    my conscience will not reproach me as long as I live. (Job 27:2-6 NIV)

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…I want to follow the Lord all the rest of my days without turning back. I want to walk with Him daily through whatever storm that comes or whatever sickness that lands in my path. I have no intentions of giving up or giving in to the enemy. When I sin, I will own it and seek His help to flee from sin. I want my life to show integrity and character from top to bottom. I want to always be honest and dependable. I want to also be kind and compassionate. I have resolved that I will follow the Lord the rest of my days even if I’m standing alone – and I know I’m not!

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Integrity Matters

 

The word " integrity"I learned at a very young age that what you say should match up with what you do and who you are. Integrity is defined as: adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty. This is easier to say than to do. I believe our character is often tested in secret, but eventually gets revealed. Who I am and what I do when no one is watching is really who I am. The person I am that is noticed in public should be the same as the one the Lord knows privately.

King David lived in the public spotlight for sure as king. His sin with Bathsheba made the national inquirer for sure. He had a tremendous lapse in integrity and judgment. He did repent profoundly and the Lord restored David’s life. He is known as a “man after God’s own heart”. What an incredible compliment to David and his heart for God.

At the end of his life, David really finishes strong. He gets the materials list together so that Solomon can build the Temple. David also donates generously from his personal wealth. He gathers everyone together and challenges them to support the building of the Temple as well as support his son Solomon as king. He starts off with a praise song and ends with a charge/challenge of sorts. Check this out…

17 I know, my God, that you test the heart and are pleased with integrity. All these things I have given willingly and with honest intent. And now I have seen with joy how willingly your people who are here have given to you. 18 Lord, the God of our fathers Abraham, Isaac and Israel, keep these desires and thoughts in the hearts of your people forever, and keep their hearts loyal to you. 19 And give my son Solomon the wholehearted devotion to keep your commands, statutes and decrees and to do everything to build the palatial structure for which I have provided.” (1 Chronicles 29:17-19 NIV)

I’m asking the Lord to test my heart this morning. I want Him to look through the “nooks and crannies” of my heart to see if there is something in my heart that needs to be removed. I want the Lord to see the honest intent of my heart. I want Him to help me to live a life of integrity and honesty that is without question. I want to consistently walk with Him and listen to Him speak into my heart. I want Him to help me eradicate pride from my heart. I want the person that I am in His Presence to be the person I am all day – every day. I do believe that integrity matters to God. I do believe integrity matters in every relationship that I have.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

I Want What I Want

I want youI have learned that I’m actually a pretty selfish person. I really want the biggest bowl of ice cream and the largest piece of cake. I want to go first most every time. I want to win at any competition that I’m in. I want more money. I want more fame. I want what I want when I want it. I want. I want. I want.

The Lord has made it quite clear to me that my selfish desires can actually destroy me if I don’t get His help keeping them in check. I believe self-centered pride is a huge destructive force in our culture. I see people who seem to have it all with a beautiful family, nice home, nice position at work – but they want more. They are subtly selfish and manipulative. It all starts with a want and then turns into a desire and then a plan goes into place. There is not time to count the costs or ask for wise counsel. I want what I want when I want it.

One of David’s sons, Amnon, wanted what he wanted. He wanted a sexual relationship with one of his half-sisters. In their culture there was a proper protocol and such a request would probably be granted. Amnon burned with lust for her and wasn’t willing to seek counsel unless he was told what he wanted to her. He found a first cousin to give him the counsel he wanted. He pretended to be sick in bed and asked for his sister to bring him food. As she is serving him food, he grabs her. Check this out…

12 ‘No, my brother!’ she said to him. ‘Don’t force me! Such a thing should not be done in Israel! Don’t do this wicked thing. 13 What about me? Where could I get rid of my disgrace? And what about you? You would be like one of the wicked fools in Israel. Please speak to the king; he will not keep me from being married to you.’ 14 But he refused to listen to her, and since he was stronger than she, he raped her. (2 Samuel 13:12-14 NIV)

This is a very sad story in the life of King David. He is broken hearted that his son would do such a thing. Then his other son Absolom waits for 2 years and has Amnon killed. This whole event was put into motion because someone wanted what they wanted when they wanted.

When I read a story like that I think that I would never do something like that. I believe this to be very dangerous thinking. The enemy will come at me at my weakest point. He will tell me things like, “you deserve to be happy” or “this will not hurt anyone”. My favorite lie that the enemy tells is: “no one will ever know or find out”. The enemy is out to destroy me and if I listen to his logic, he will win. I believe there is a spiritual battle for my heart. The Lord is gently shaping my heart to be like His, but the enemy is planting and nurturing selfish seeds inside my heart. I must submit my wants and desires through the filter of God’s Word. This filter will reveal my self-centered wants and desire. I really want more of God in my heart, but I also want all this other “crap” too. I need to trust the Lord as Keeper of my character. He will not misguide my life or my decisions.

Pressing On!

Dwayne