Enemy

 

devil angelI have tried hard over the years to avoid making enemies. I’m not a doormat that others can walk upon. I also don’t intentionally harm others. I have opened my mouth and stuck my foot in more times than I can count and hurt myself and others. I’ve always thought it was a mistake to make enemies versus friends. I may have significant disagreements with you, but there doesn’t have to be hatred involved. I do have an enemy and I try hard to avoid any association with him because he seeks my destruction. He employs whomever he can in his schemes and plans. The enemy has no power over me except what I give him. The Lord is the King of my heart and He squashes the enemy like a bug.

John, in writing about what he sees and hears, sees war break out in heaven. The angels throw satan down to earth. He longs to destroy the people of God. He wants to bring destruction to the church. He can bring temptations that are incredibly beautiful and appealing, but full of poison and death. Even though he has some power, I am full of God’s Spirit and the Power in me is much greater than the enemy. After the enemy was thrown from heaven, John heard a a loud voice. Check this out…

10 Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say,

The salvation and the power
and the kingdom of our God
and the authority of his Christ
have now come,
because the accuser of our brothers and sisters,
who accuses them
before our God day and night,
has been thrown down.
11 They conquered him
by the blood of the Lamb
and by the word of their testimony;
for they did not love their lives
to the point of death. (Revelation 12:10-11CSB)

The enemy makes lots of promises that he can’t keep. His promises are full of lies and deceit. He promises life when he’s full of death. He knows what his end looks like, so he longs to take as many as he can from the Kingdom of God. He will say and do whatever he can to accomplish that.  I must keep seeking the truth in God’s Word so that I can recognize the schemes of the enemy. He will be defeated in the end. I just don’t want to be among those he’s caught.

I want to follow the Lord closely each day and discover deep truth from His Word to insulate me against the enemy and his attempts to take me out. I look forward to eternal life more than this brief vapor of life here on earth.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

The End Game

timer with the words Time is Running OutI see the “end game” as the place where I want things to end up. For me it’s a big picture goal. I have an “end game” in mind when I work with a client to put an offer on a house or list a piece of property. There are a lot of moving parts to the process for it to end up in a closing. Stephen Covey in his book: “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”, introduced Habit #2 as “Begin With the End In Mind”.  I believe that knowing or seeing the “end game” can really shape the activities of my day today.

Peter speaks of the “end game” in his first book and I think it’s worth taking a closer look. Check this out…

The end of all things is near; therefore, be alert and sober-minded for prayer. Above all, maintain constant love for one another, since love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaining. 10 Just as each one has received a gift, use it to serve others, as good stewards of the varied grace of God. 11 If anyone speaks, let it be as one who speaks God’s words; if anyone serves, let it be from the strength God provides, so that God may be glorified through Jesus Christ in everything. To him be the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen. (1 Peter 4:7-11 CSB)

I’ve heard that we are in the end times since I was little boy. I remember being scared of the world coming to an end. It could happen today or tomorrow for that matter. I decided a long time ago to be ready to meet the Lord whenever it happens.  I don’t know when the end of time will come or when my time on earth comes to an end, but I want to be ready to meet him. That is my ultimate “end game” – to live and love in such a way that I’m ready to meet the Lord however my life here ends. I want to love deeply and serve deliberately others whom the Lord puts in my path. I want the words that come out of my mouth to bring honor to Him – not embarrassment to Him. If the Lord receives glory for what I do today and what I’ve done, then my end game will be realized.

I’m not afraid of how this life ends or when it ends because He is the One Who gave me life in the first place. I am trusting Him with the life that doesn’t end – eternal life!

Pressing On!

Dwayne

When Does This End?

 

Retro typewriter text the endI’ve watched movies before where I’m checking my watch to see when this dreadful experience will be over. I’ve been to church before and had the same experience – we are on a schedule and we must choose wisely where we spend the most valuable currency we have…our time. I just returned from vacation – several days by the lake enjoying the sunsets over the water. I am back in my more normal routines today.

As I read this passage in 1 Corinthians this morning, Paul was talking about how this all ends. He explained that this life is not the only life we live for or we are pitiful. He speaks frankly on the importance of eternal life and the significance of what Jesus did by His death on the cross. This life will end – but we have hope that the end of this life is not the end of it all – there’s more! Check this out…

12 Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say, “There is no resurrection of the dead”? 13 If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised; 14 and if Christ has not been raised, then our proclamation is in vain, and so is your faith.

20 But as it is, Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead also comes through a man. 22 For just as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.

56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!

58 Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the Lord’s work, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. (1 Corinthians 15:12-14,20-22,56-58 CSB)

I still have work to do while I’m here on earth. I must be consistent and faithful in my pursuit of God’s heart not so that I can be saved, but because I am saved. I want to know Him more. I want to live in the hope that there’s so much more.

I heard a guy recently say that “none of us makes it out of this life alive (unless the Lord comes back)”, so we need to start living larger than just our plans and our simple existence. The end of this life comes for all of us at some point in time, but because of Jesus did come to earth, He did live a sinless life, He did die a sacrificial death on the cross, He did come back to life on the third day to conquer death once and for all. There is no need to fear. There is certainly ample reason for hope. I want to live my life for Him to the end of this life and the transition to my new life will be seamless!

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Finish Strong

happy and motivated old people 3dI think it happened sometime when I was around 42 or 43 years of age. I began to realize that I was probably around “halfway home” – that’s if I lived to be 85 years of age. My Dad turned 80 this year and if that’s any indication of how long I could live, I consider myself a blessed man – I plan to be ready to cross that finish line whenever the Lord plans for me to cross.  I feel like my role for now is to be committed to His Will and His Way. I want my life here and now to bring honor and glory to God until He calls me home.

Today I finished the last chapter of the book of Job. The entire book included significantly more lamenting and scolding than anything. After reading the beginning conversation between God and Satan – this book finished strong. Job realized that his perspective of God had been skewed by his suffering and pain. He repented of this before God. God asked Job to pray for his three friends. He did. Check this out…

10 After Job had prayed for his friends, the Lord restored his fortunes and gave him twice as much as he had before. 

16 After this, Job lived a hundred and forty years; he saw his children and their children to the fourth generation. 17 And so Job died, an old man and full of years. (Job 42:10,16-17 NIV

I’m not sure how long Job suffered but his suffering didn’t last a lifetime for sure. I believe that much of my life here on earth is about perspective. Creator God didn’t create me only for this life. He created me for eternity. I believe that God created me to live here abundantly with His Spirit inside me so that as I move into eternity I will be in His Presence forever. He wired me for both life here and life there.

If I was half-way home at 43, then at 55 I’m getting close to being two thirds finished. I do realize that I could “go home” with the help of earthly tragedy or a debilitating disease. Any way it is sliced, I don’t leave earth alive unless the Lord returns to take all His children home. I don’t know when He’s coming or when I’m going – but I can be faithful and finish strong. I can love deeply like He does. I can be forgiving like He is. I can use the rest of my time here on earth to honor Him and build His Kingdom here to serve generations behind me. I must confess that I’d like to live a good long life as my children bring much joy to my heart and those grand babies are just grand! Whatever His plan for me – I want to finish strong.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Bad Ending

Devastated
I have watched movies or TV shows that didn’t end well according to me. I like happy endings. I like it when a marriage is saved or a relationship with family restored. I like it when the guy and the girl finally see in each other what we the audience had seen all along. I like the good guy to win and the bad guy to loose. That really isn’t reality though. A movie or TV show is more about entertainment than realty for sure. I still want life to be good. I don’t want there to be disease and death. I really need to stop dreaming and come back to the real world.

At the end of the day I’m not really in control of the end of my life story. Oh sure, people can actually take their life and end it how they think they want. That is very abrupt and causes loved ones left behind a lot of pain and struggle for sure because it’s really a very self-centered action. There are things I can do to help the ending of my life to be positive and powerful.

King Jehoram was a king who did not finish well. He killed his brothers and he turned his back on God. He made the enemies of Judah angry and they invaded Jerusalem. He was a failure as a king and quite frankly as a person. Check this out…

20 Jehoram was thirty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem eight years. He passed away, to no one’s regret, and was buried in the City of David, but not in the tombs of the kings. (2 Chronicles 21:20 NIV)

I think it would be sad to be at a funeral service where no one was sad to see the guy die. He had used and abused so many people. He was perceived as a dishonest and evil king. I’ll summarize the old adage: “I’m actually preaching my funeral in my day to day life today.” I believe that how I treat people in ordinary circumstances can translate into many other relationships. If I’m kind, honest and honorable to the people I meet – they are usually someone’s family and the word can spread. Obviously the reverse of that is true.

It’s crazy to think that how I live today can translate into how I’m thought of when I die. I don’t think it’s just one act of kindness or honor, but it could be. I have many choices available to me today. I want to choose to put others before myself. I want to be generous toward others. I want to do all of this just so people say nice things at my funeral. I want to honor God in all I do – I really want to please Him above any other and there will still be people who miss me. To have a good ending to my life, I need to decide to honor God and walk humbly before Him today and every day as long as I live.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Grief

 

DevastatedI know people personally who have gone through the depths of grief. It is a dark valley and the road is paved with despair. It is so hard to see out of the valley. I’m so thankful that the Lord can come along side and direct the grieving out of that dark, dreary valley.

Ephraim, the son of Joseph when through this dark valley of grief. Check this out…

Ezer and Elead were killed by the native-born men of Gath, when they went down to seize their livestock. 22 Their father Ephraim mourned for them many days, and his relatives came to comfort him. 23 Then he made love to his wife again, and she became pregnant and gave birth to a son. He named him Beriah, because there had been misfortune in his family. (1 Chronicles 7:21b-23 NIV)

The part of this passage that jumped in my lap this morning was the fact that Ephraim mourned for his sons many days. My heart aches for parents who have lost a child in death.

Elizabeth Kubler-Ross introduced five stages of grief many years ago and I believe they are pretty significant and accurate to those who have faced the sudden death of a child, a parent, a friend or a spouse.

  • Denial — The first reaction is denial. In this stage individuals believe the diagnosis is somehow mistaken, and cling to a false, preferable reality.
  • Anger — When the individual recognizes that denial cannot continue, they become frustrated, especially at proximate individuals. Certain psychological responses of a person undergoing this phase would be: “Why me? It’s not fair!”; “How can this happen to me?”; ‘”Who is to blame?”; “Why would this happen?”.
  • Bargaining — The third stage involves the hope that the individual can avoid a cause of grief. Usually, the negotiation for an extended life is made in exchange for a reformed lifestyle. People facing less serious trauma can bargain or seek compromise.
  • Depression — “I’m so sad, why bother with anything?”; “I’m going to die soon, so what’s the point?”; “I miss my loved one, why go on?”
  • During the fourth stage, the individual despairs at the recognition of their mortality. In this state, the individual may become silent, refuse visitors and spend much of the time mournful and sullen.
  • Acceptance — “It’s going to be okay.”; “I can’t fight it, I may as well prepare for it.”

In this last stage, individuals embrace mortality or inevitable future, or that of a loved one, or other tragic event. People dying may precede the survivors in this state, which typically comes with a calm, retrospective view for the individual, and a stable condition of emotions. (“On Death & Dying” 2011 Elizabeth Kubler-Ross) I also have heard from numerous people that Granger Westburg’s book “Good Grief” is an excellent, short but honest and with the heart of a pastor.

I’m thankful that our church (Southern Hills Christian Church) is offering a restoration group/class called GriefShare starting in August. This group will be led by two very dear friends who have been through this valley of grief in the loss of a child. I think the sign up is going on now at www.sohillscc.com.

I haven’t grieved the death of a child, parent, spouse or close personal friend. I do remember the grief of divorce many years ago and the process of grief is similar. There are things in this life that are very certain and death is one of them. I’m not going to predict how I will handle death that is up close and personal, but I fully intend to walk with the Giver of Life through the valley of death. He never leaves me alone.

 

Pressing On!

Dwayne