Death

 

death Grunge TextI am not a fan of death. I recently experienced the death of a dear aunt and then two weeks later, her son died. Death is so permanent relative to my life here and now. In relationship to eternity, it more like a new chapter. I see eternity as “the long game” or “the big picture”. While death is the end of this life, it moves us squarely into eternity. The way I understand scripture, this life determines the destination in eternity.

This morning I read about the death of Jesus from John’s perspective. John was probably the closest of the 12 disciples to Jesus. He was standing at the foot of the cross when Jesus breathed His last. The death of Jesus “felt like” the end, but it certainly wasn’t. Jesus came to earth to fulfill His mission to conquer sin and death. His death on the cross accomplished both. He died for the sins of the world. His death was made even more significant because of how He lived, His teaching and His ministry here on earth. He was the promised Messiah and many missed that. Check this out…

25 Standing near the cross were Jesus’ mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary (the wife of Clopas), and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus saw his mother standing there beside the disciple he loved, he said to her, “Dear woman, here is your son.”27 And he said to this disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from then on, this disciple took her into his home. 28 Jesus knew that his mission was now finished, and to fulfill Scripture he said, “I am thirsty.” 29 A jar of sour wine was sitting there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put it on a hyssop branch, and held it up to his lips. 30 When Jesus had tasted it, he said, “It is finished!” Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. (John 19:25-30 NLT)

I’ve read the other accounts of Jesus’ death and they are a bit more dramatic. John’s version is pretty simple. I think John’s is feeling a lot of the weight of the earthly family of Jesus. His death was very public and at this point probably pretty humiliating. It’s hard to have the perspective that He is the Savior of the World during this dark afternoon.

I honestly dread death. I’ve been trying to prepare myself for that eventual “ending” to my life here on earth. I decided years ago that my best response to death was to connect with the Creator of Life and live inside His Plan for my life. He has given me opportunity to invest in others. I am blessed with 5 amazing kids who also desire to know the Lord deeply and understand His plan for their lives. I also know that my life here can “live on” through my relationships and my “investments” into eternal things rather than just temporary things. Not one human being on the planet can escape death, so I’m taking the route of planning for it and leaning into it. I want my life and influence to count for years to come through my investment into my children; their children and anyone who will listen. The Word of God is true and He gives a clear plan for “retirement” from this life – total trust in Jesus. I’m putting my hope in Him!

All My Hope Is In Jesus – Crowder

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Safe & Protected

 

LKR032459I have a security alarm in my home so that if someone comes into my home during the night, I will be alerted. If it is one my family members, they know the code to bypass the alarm. I have to admit that I rest better at night knowing the home is secured. I do have “other means” of security as well, those will remain private.

A few nights ago, the security system mal-functioned just after midnight and I wasn’t home. At that point, it became an irritating and obnoxious system. It needed a “reboot”. It is now working fine.

Jesus explains His position as the Son of God and the keeper of His sheep (followers, disciples, believers). He is like a farmer who knows his livestock and gives them each a name. He feeds them and provides for them. He watches out for the sick or weak. Check this out…

24 The people surrounded him and asked, “How long are you going to keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.”

25 Jesus replied, “I have already told you, and you don’t believe me. The proof is the work I do in my Father’s name. 26 But you don’t believe me because you are not my sheep. 27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from me, 29 for my Father has given them to me, and he is more powerful than anyone else. No one can snatch them from the Father’s hand. 30 The Father and I are one.” (John 10:24-30 NLT)

As I walk out my faith daily with the Lord – He and I talk a lot. We talk about everything. We talk about the little things and the big things. We talk about whether I should eat that piece of candy (sometimes I don’t listen) or not. I want Him involved in every facet of my life. He gives the best counsel. He gives the best directions. He leads me where He wants me to go. I’m also listening to Him so that I can say what He wants me to say.

I feel safe and protected wherever I am and whatever I’m doing because I know that the Lord is with me. I don’t worry because I’ve surrendered to His Will and His Way for me. I want my life to bring glory to Him and not to me. I want Him to be noticed in how I live. He keeps me safe and protected for Himself. If I were to get sick, hurt or killed – I want those events to draw attention to my total trust in the Lord. I will die one of these days and He alone knows how or when that will happen. I want my life and my death to bring glory and honor to Him. Having my total trust in Him is the ONLY way I feel safe and protected.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

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