Critical Correspondence & Conversation

Life changesI am not a big fan of conflict, but there are times when conflict just can’t be avoided. I do believe there is a right way and wrong way to handle conflict. The person initiating the conflict doesn’t always surprise the other person. They could probably feel the pressure rising. There are other times that the person confronted is blown away that they’ve caused someone else harm by their actions or inactions. I read a great book recently called “Crucial Conversations” and was super informative about this topic.

The Apostle Paul is writing to the church in Corinth what seems to be a follow-up conversation to a recent letter that engaged in criticism of behavior that was ungodly. He is affirming the changes that he is hearing about. It’s not really a “conversation” as much as it is correspondence.  Check this out….

I am not sorry that I sent that severe letter to you, though I was sorry at first, for I know it was painful to you for a little while. Now I am glad I sent it, not because it hurt you, but because the pain caused you to repent and change your ways. It was the kind of sorrow God wants his people to have, so you were not harmed by us in any way. 10 For the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation. There’s no regret for that kind of sorrow. But worldly sorrow, which lacks repentance, results in spiritual death. (2 Corinthians 7:8-10 NLT)

There are times when correspondence can set up a “crucial conversation”. There are times when I advise one person to sit down and write to the person they are in conflict with. I want them to be forthright and honest. I don’t always want them to send the letter, but it gives great clarity to their main issues. I think writing things down sometimes reveals that there is pettiness and selfishness. When I write things down on paper, they seem very real and concrete.

The other thing I love about this passage is accountability. I need someone who will hold me accountable for my words and my actions. The church can provide accountability if I submit to it. My wife provides accountability. My business partners provide accountability.  The end goal of a critical correspondence or a crucial conversation is change. Change is always happening. Ironically, change is consistently changing. Change often equals growth. The Lord is after my heart to keep changing to become more like His. I have tremendous pressure to become self-centered and inward focused. The Lord is calling me to a life of love, compassion and generosity. I must meet the Lord with godly sorrow for my self-centered, self-serving ways. His Word calls me to repentance for sure. Repentance is critical to my spiritual journey with the Lord. I welcome critical correspondence and crucial conversations that are sent from the Lord to help me grow.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

The Fruit of My Heart

Apple trees orchardI am not an expert on fruit trees. When I was a kid, we had an apple orchard. There are tasks to do to fruit trees to help them produce healthy fruit and become a healthy tree. For example, fruit trees need to fertilized and watered. Fruit trees also need to be pruned and treated for disease and insect infestation.  When cared for properly, fruit trees will bear beautiful fruit. Jesus compared our heart to a fruit tree in speaking to the Pharisees and religious leaders. Check this out….

33 “A tree is identified by its fruit. If a tree is good, its fruit will be good. If a tree is bad, its fruit will be bad. 34 You brood of snakes! How could evil men like you speak what is good and right? For whatever is in your heart determines what you say. 35 A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. 36 And I tell you this, you must give an account on judgment day for every idle word you speak. 37 The words you say will either acquit you or condemn you.” (Matthew 12:33-37 NLT)

I believe that my heart is the gateway to my soul. My heart is not necessarily the pump inside my chest. My heart is the emotional epicenter of me as a person. I believe that my heart needs to be involved in decision making because love comes from my heart more than my head. I think Jesus is teaching that behavior flows from the heart. I believe it’s super important to take care of my heart. My heart needs to be watered and fertilized with the Word of God. The very Spirit of God prunes my heart and treats for disease that can destroy my heart. I also realize that the Lord is the ONLY ONE Who truly knows everything about my heart and everything inside my heart. He’s also the ONLY ONE Who can heal my heart when it’s diseased, broken, or deeply damaged.  He created my physical heart and He created my spiritual heart. The fruit of my life reveals the condition & the depth of my heart. He has filled my heart with love, compassion, mercy & grace. It should overflow into every relationship I have on this planet.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

My Best Self

Follow Lead Buttons Show Leading The Way Or FollowingA couple of years ago I was introduced to Darren Hardy who produces “Darren Daily” – a short motivational video that comes to my inbox every day of the week. He speaks about a daily habit or attitude that will help build me as a business leader and as a leader of my family. I enjoy these little video blogs and they help me grow. Yesterday’s challenge was about being my best self. This clip made me think and ponder my daily choices and ask the question: “Am I bringing my best self to work each day?”

I love starting my day listening to the Lord speak into my life through His Word. I feel like my heart gets rejuvenated and amped up for the day. This morning was no exception. I read in Colossians about more of what my “best self” could look like. Check this out…

12 Therefore, as God’s chosen ones, holy and dearly loved, put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a grievance against another. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you are also to forgive. 14 Above all, put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. 15 And let the peace of Christ, to which you were also called in one body, rule your hearts. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell richly among you, in all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another through psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Colossians 3:12-17 CSB)

I want to keep growing my “best self”. I want to continue to evaluate the direction of my daily life and my business. I want to keep growing as a follower of Jesus. I want to keep growing as a husband, Dad and Pop. I want to keep growing as REALTOR and Broker. I want to live my life in such a way that people are clearly aware that I’m a follower of Jesus because of the characteristics of my life.

My best self will always have Christ at the center of my life. I want to bring compassion, competence, consistency, skill, kindness, patience, service (this list could get long!) to every person I meet or work with. I want my best self to showcase my faith in the Lord.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Good Work

Work Characters Shows Working Workers And Manual LaborI haven’t always believed work is good. After the Great Recession, I now hear myself saying that I’m thankful to have work. I have also learned that no matter how much work I must do or how hard some parts of it are, I can put food on the table and provide shelter for my family because of my work. I’ve also watched the TV show “Dirty Jobs” and there are much tougher jobs than any I have ever had.

I’ve learned over the years in my journey with the Lord that I can’t work my way into heaven. I can’t do enough good work to earn my salvation. Paul is clear about this. Check this out…

But God, who is rich in mercy, because of his great love that he had for us, made us alive with Christ even though we were dead in trespasses. You are saved by grace!

For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift— not from works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time for us to do. (Ephesians 2:4-5, 8-10 CSB)

I grew up hearing about all the things I needed to do and it felt like if I went to church, read my Bible and prayed often that I could be saved. I’m not sure that was the intended message, but it’s what I heard. When I discovered the grace of God a few years ago, my heart was full and so very open to this incredible concept that is the essence of Who God is. As I journey through His Word I see His heart that is full of love, compassion and grace. He is also a God of justice, but He doesn’t love to dispense justice – He loves to lavish His kids with Grace! He doesn’t want anyone to miss out on His love.

The first two words in this passage are: “But God”. Those two words have changed the trajectory of my life. He has built me and wired me to honor Him, to serve Him because He loved me. He now lives and works in me and through me. Anything I do, say or write that has value to anyone – it’s because He is in me. I’ve made wise decisions over the years that He was totally in charge of or responsible for.

I don’t work FOR my salvation, I do good work and serve Him BECAUSE of my salvation. I am more and more wowed by His Grace every day. There is no one beyond the reach of Grace. I can’t escape His reach of Grace. I am continually humbled and grateful when I think about the things I’ve done or said and He still loves me and chooses to use me for His Honor & Glory. I can’t begin to express my gratitude… words just don’t work here. I’m so thankful for grace.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Standard or Upgrade

 

Web IconWhen buying a car, you can get the standard features or you can get the upgrade. The upgrade always cost more. When building a house or simple remodeling a kitchen, there are standard features you can buy, then there are upgrades. I guess standard is the starting point or the average. In our country, we don’t buy a TV when it wears out, we upgrade to the latest flat panel LCD. The other TV was working perfectly fine, but it was standard. There’s another category that I’ve seen since becoming a REALTOR; it’s called “sub-standard” which is below average or below the starting point.

In Romans 12 (possibly my favorite chapter of scripture), the Apostle Paul really lays out some standard Christian behaviors. These are meant to be the starting point, but they are often not even practiced by Christ-followers. Check this out…

Let love be without hypocrisy. Detest evil; cling to what is good. 10 Love one another deeply as brothers and sisters. Outdo one another in showing honor. 

16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud; instead, associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own estimation. 17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Give careful thought to do what is honorable in everyone’s eyes. 18 If possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. (Romans 12:9-10; 16-18 CSB)

As a Christ follower, I should not do the minimum standards or starting points. I should grow from there. Sometimes Christians look the same as others who don’t follow the Lord. My behavior should be different. My language should be kinder. My compassion should be deeper. I should keep the spotlight on the Lord and not on me. My life needs to be governed by the Spirit of God living in me. He longs to be seen in me. I can’t “out give” or “out love” the Lord. I should keep growing in these areas and not settle for the starting point.

Today as I begin my day, I’m so thankful for the Lord’s patience with me as I seek to build on the standards set forth and keep upgrading my faith by surrendering to His will and His way.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Mercy – Hope – Respect

Man praying with the BibleIt’s a new day! Yesterday is now in the rear-view mirror – today is another chance to make good choices and wise decisions. I was reminded this morning how much I need mercy. Mercy is defined as: compassion, forbearance, kindness, blessing, pity, benevolence, the power to pardon and divine favor. I live in the shadow of this word every day and I’m profoundly thankful that the Lord shows me mercy daily.

As I read this Psalm of Assents this morning, I was reminded that along with mercy, I have found hope and I live in respect for the Lord out of that mercy & hope. Check this out…

Out of the depths I cry to you, Lord;
    Lord, hear my voice.
Let your ears be attentive
    to my cry for mercy.

If you, Lord, kept a record of sins,
    Lord, who could stand?
But with you there is forgiveness,
    so that we can, with reverence, serve you.

I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits,
    and in his Word I put my hope. (Psalm 130:1-5 NIV)

The more I study the Word of God, the more respect and reverence I have for the Lord. He has NOT kept a record of my sins. I am aware of my sin most days and I’m naïve toward the mercy He has poured out on me. I am profoundly thankful and humbled to think of how He not only forgives me and shows mercy, He calls me His kid. The moves my heart. In His Word, I find that mercy and forgiveness displayed often. In His Word, I find Provision, Protection, Direction, Instruction, Help, Hope, Profound Love. The Lord is in a category all by Himself. He is not just another god – He is the Only God and He forgives and forgets my stupidity. His heart melts when I say I’m sorry. His mercy and forgiveness is immediate. His Presence is constant. His Word teaches me more and more about His heart, Who He is and I’m invited to know Him more personally.

Pressing On!

Dwayne