100% Death Rate

DevastatedI realize that this heading is not exciting and inviting. I do believe it to be the truth. I’ve not been around as long as a lot of other people, but I realize that 100% of the people living on earth will die OR the Lord will return and take His followers to eternal life (aka Heaven). As I get older and my body aches and my mind “slips a gear” every now and then I’m reminded that my goal is to finish strong in following the Lord. I’m trusting the Lord with the rest of my life. He’s been in charge of my life up until this point. I often thought I was in control only to learn that The Lord was. My wife & I went by the grave site of her grandparents the other day. It was sobering to remember how much we loved them and how much we missed them. I had just told my brother the other day how much I missed my grandparents. I am so blessed to have had godly influences like that. I want to make sure that I’m still investing in my children and grandchildren to leave a heritage of faith like they did.

Paul seeks to encourage the church at Corinth regarding life after this life. He reminded us that death was a gateway or transition into our eternal life. I really like how Paul explains things even though He hadn’t yet experienced this. He was writing this inspired by The Spirit of Creator God. Check this out….

40 There are also bodies in the heavens and bodies on the earth. The glory of the heavenly bodies is different from the glory of the earthly bodies.

42 It is the same way with the resurrection of the dead. Our earthly bodies are planted in the ground when we die, but they will be raised to live forever. 43 Our bodies are buried in brokenness, but they will be raised in glory. They are buried in weakness, but they will be raised in strength. 44 They are buried as natural human bodies, but they will be raised as spiritual bodies. For just as there are natural bodies, there are also spiritual bodies.

56 For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. 57 But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.

58 So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless. (1 Corinthians 15:40,42-44,56-58 NLT)

I don’t know when my life on earth will end and it really creeps some people out to think like that. It is wise to prepare for death, but not to live in fear of it. The Lord has removed the sting of death and ushered in hope. He has really calmed my heart down. I will admit that I still have little fear spikes every now and then, because I’ll be facing something that I don’t know much about. It will be a new experience.

I am doing my best to live my life enthusiastically and with confidence in the Lord. I want to embrace and fully take in the relationships I have with friends and family. I want my life here to bring Glory to God and not to me. It is hard to swallow when a young person dies what appears too soon. I want to keep trusting in the Lord regarding this because I know He’s not surprised by anything or anyone.  I want to become stronger and immovable in my faith.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Death Defeated!

He is RisenWhen I actually think about death, I admit that I’m a bit afraid. I have not been around a lot of people as they died, but I really miss several people who have already died. I think the reason that there is some fear in my heart, it’s because it’s unknown. I’ve never met anyone who has died and came back to tell me what it’s like. I was speaking with someone just yesterday who’s spouse battled cancer for nearly 10 years before dying. There are lots of questions I have about death that I can’t find the answers for. My journey with the Lord has made my questions a lot smaller and less significant because I do believe that He will be with me – even in death.  I think the thing that makes me a bit fearful is because death is not a respecter of age. People of all ages die. While I’m alive here on earth, this life becomes all-consuming and I lose perspective that eternal life is the big prize! This life is a prerequisite to eternal life – there is no death there.

The big difference in believing in Jesus rather than other religions is that He defeated death. He died as part of a plan to bring forgiveness to everyone who believes in Him. None of the other religious leaders have that claim to fame. Jesus actually didn’t come to reinforce a religion; He came bringing us a direct relationship with God, the Father.  When Jesus died on Friday, His disciples were despondent and disillusioned. When Sunday came, everything changed. Check this out….

Then the angel spoke to the women. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead, just as he said would happen. Come, see where his body was lying. And now, go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and he is going ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there. Remember what I have told you.”

The women ran quickly from the tomb. They were very frightened but also filled with great joy, and they rushed to give the disciples the angel’s message. And as they went, Jesus met them and greeted them. And they ran to him, grasped his feet, and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Don’t be afraid! Go tell my brothers to leave for Galilee, and they will see me there.” (Matthew 28:5-10 NLT)

As I get older and ponder death, I realize that I can’t really know what to expect. I have to hold on tight to the Lord as I walk through that valley. I also must remember that I have given my life to the One Person Who defeated death. I think the older I get the weaker my fear becomes. The last time I checked the death rate is 100% here on earth. Jesus faced death. Jesus completed His mission which culminated in death, but then He defeated death once and for all when He came back to life.  I want to live and walk through this life with confidence in the One Who took the sting out of death by defeating death. I want to grow closer to Him as I walk toward that transition from this life to the next.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Perspective on Power

 

For God so loved the world... God holding world with crossI’ve witnessed the power of high winds and tornados. I’ve talked with those who’ve experienced earth quakes. I’ve seen powerful explosives that take down a stadium to rubble. I’ve seen mighty cranes, trucks, bulldozers.  I’ve seen the destructive power of weapons used to steal, kill and destroy.  Power put in the wrong hands brings about disruption and destruction.

The Lord is ALL POWERFUL. No one else measures up to His Power. I’m in small group of men who are reading in Isaiah this week and immediately, I saw a powerful perspective of the Lord.  He has no equal. Check this out…

12 Who else has held the oceans in his hand?
    Who has measured off the heavens with his fingers?
Who else knows the weight of the earth
    or has weighed the mountains and hills on a scale?
13 Who is able to advise the Spirit of the Lord?
    Who knows enough to give him advice or teach him?
14 Has the Lord ever needed anyone’s advice?
    Does he need instruction about what is good?
Did someone teach him what is right
    or show him the path of justice? (Isaiah 40:12-14 NLT)

The prophet Isaiah is crystal clear on how powerful the Lord is. He explains that nothing or no one else can compare or measure up to Him. He is beyond my ability to fathom this power perspective. He made the heavens and the earth. He knows what the earth weighs? He never needs advice or wise counsel.

After this perspective, I came across one of my favorite passages in all of scripture. Check this out…

28 Have you never heard?
    Have you never understood?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
    the Creator of all the earth.
He never grows weak or weary.
    No one can measure the depths of his understanding.
29 He gives power to the weak
    and strength to the powerless.
30 Even youths will become weak and tired,
    and young men will fall in exhaustion.
31 But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength.
    They will soar high on wings like eagles.
They will run and not grow weary.
    They will walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:28-31 NLT)

He never gets tired or weak and He’s the Supplier of my strength, therefore, I can remain strong. He renews my strength. He rebuilds me when I’m broken. He restores me when I’m devastated. He specializes in renewing and rebuilding broken, hurting people. He makes a way where there seems to be no way.  He most definitely worthy of my trust and confidence. There is no One more powerful, yet gentle, patient, merciful and full of Grace. I’m so thankful to know Him and to be known by Him!

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Eye Witness

Jury Duty 3D cube Word Cloud ConceptI have seen stuff with my own eyes that I might had a hard time believing that it happened if I had not seen with my own eyes. I witnessed an accident a few years back that after I was questioned about the accident, I was confused about what happened. Eyewitness testimony is the account a bystander or victim gives in the courtroom, describing what that person observed that occurred during the specific incident under investigation. Ideally this recollection of events is detailed; however, this is not always the case. When an eyewitness is giving testimony, the confidence that they have is important.  I also think it’s important to have more than one eyewitness if possible.

I love the apostle Peter. He seems like my kind of guy when I read the story of Jesus. He’s imperfect. He’s impulsive. He’s emotional. He is committed. Jesus called him the Rock upon which He (Jesus) would build His church. Peter recalls something he witnessed with his own eyes. Check this out…

16 For we did not follow cleverly contrived myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ; instead, we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 For he received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased!” 18 We ourselves heard this voice when it came from heaven while we were with him on the holy mountain. (2 Peter 1:16-18 CSB)

I can’t always articulate the things I know and believe, but I do know that He has spoken to me through His Word and through times of prayer. I have been an eyewitness to a changed life and it’s a beautiful thing for sure. I have experienced His Grace first hand and it radically changed my perspective on my walk with the Lord. I grew up trying to be enough and do enough to “earn” my way into His Kingdom. Through His Word, He tore down some of those false instructions and introduced me to the truth that is drenched in grace. I can now hear the truth of His Word with profound clarity. I now understand that it’s for me. I now understand that I could have NEVER been good enough or have done enough to “earn” my salvation. I now serve Him because of His grace to “work out” or live out my salvation. That is quite a contrast. I love Peter’s eyewitness account here because he’s speaking of something that happened many years ago, yet he has great clarity.

I want my life to bear stellar testimony to the fact that I walk with the Lord daily. I want others to see Him in me. I want them to see the confidence that I have in my journey with Him. His Word has lit up my path and I want to walk out my faith with Him every day!

Pressing On!

Dwayne

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

Confident Confession

confidence level conceptual meterI like the word confident. I try to be very cautious about being confident because it can lead to a condescending tone which flows right into arrogance. I have a lot of confidence in the Lord. I have seen Him move and work in my life and in the lives of others. I see confident as being bold and having a strong belief or conviction. Confession means to declare or acknowledge one’s faith. Confession also carries with it the agreement & acknowledgment of my sin before the Lord. I’m learning that becoming aware of my sin is critical to the Lord helping me to overcome my struggle with sin.

I have known the Lord for a long time, but that doesn’t make me superior to the person who just met Him. I believe that my journey with the Lord is a day by day walk. I have choices every day that should I choose them, could absolutely destroy the integrity of my walk with God. I believe that the Lord would forgive me, but I see it as “crucifying Him all over again”. I want my life and my choices to be pleasing to Him. I want my confidence to be place squarely upon His shoulders. I am thankful that Jesus came and became the Ultimate Sacrifice for sin. This changed mankind’s relationship with God once and for all. Check this out…

19 Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have boldness to enter the sanctuary through the blood of Jesus— 20 he has inaugurated for us a new and living way through the curtain (that is, through his flesh)— 21 and since we have a great high priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed in pure water. 23 Let us hold on to the confession of our hope without wavering, since he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us watch out for one another to provoke love and good works, 25 not neglecting to gather together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging each other, and all the more as you see the day approaching. (Hebrews 10:19-25 CSB)

I shouldn’t be arrogant about what God has done for me, because He will save anyone who will comes before Him with a humble heart seeking forgiveness. His grace is enough for the whole world. He loves His Creation – His kids. He wants everyone to be saved, but He will not force His will upon my heart or upon anyone else. I could make people tell me they love me by threatening their life, but that wouldn’t be love at all. I’m thankful to be loved because I’ve learned to love. God loved me first and His love has compelled my heart to surrender to His love. I now love Him and I daily surrender my will and my way to His Will & His Way. I am confident that He is in control of my life and I’m not. I want to walk with Him every day without worry or stress, because He is the Lord of my life and all the circumstances surrounding my life. I’m in charge of being obedient and trusting Him while walking out my faith with complete confidence in Him. I also want to encourage others to live out their faith in daily surrender to Him.

Pressing On!

Dwayne